Samoa may be a country surrounded by water, but access to clean drinking water is scarce in some areas, with many families facing extreme hardship as a result.
Leaia lives with her five children, husband, brother, and sister-in-law on the island of Upolu in Samoa. Not having access to clean water for their daily lives has caused Leaia a lot of worry.
Leaia’s family built the home entirely out of recycled scraps collected from a nearby recycling plant, as not to waste precious income and provide for her children.
Their home is not connected to a piped water system, so they used to rely solely on rainwater collected in old fridges. When their water ran out, she had to walk with her young children to collect water in buckets and containers from a neighbour down the street.
When it was very hot, there was not much water. It became difficult for me to collect, and this would mean we had very little water, plus it was far... Without water, we can’t do any of our daily activities, we rely heavily on water to live.
With the support of Caritas Australia’s local partner, Caritas Samoa, a water tank was installed in Leaia’s home to harvest rainwater. This means that her family can now have access to clean water to drink and bathe. The time that was previously used to collect drinking water can now be used for other essential tasks and, most importantly, her children don’t have to miss out on school.
Prior to having the water tank, Leaia’s children would sometimes miss school during the dry season. Without enough water at home, Leaia would keep her children back as they could not bathe before school.
The school water supply was also unclean. “If there isn’t enough water the kids can’t go to school because the water supply at school isn’t clean... Part of their morning routine is to shower before school, so if there’s not enough water, they can’t attend school. It becomes unhygienic for them.” Leaia said.