From struggles to dreams of a brighter future
Maryam Magaji, a primary three student hails from a large family of 20 siblings. Growing up in Banganange, a rural community in Sokoto, Nigeria’s northern most state, she dreams of following her mother's footsteps and becoming a successful trader. With a passion for mathematics, Maryam embraces her studies, hoping to pave the path for a brighter future.
At only 11 years old, Maryam’s journey has not been easy. Until a few weeks ago, the 17th of 20 children was responsible for ensuring there is water for the family’s daily needs. With no water source near her home, she had to embark on long, tiring and sometimes unsafe journeys in search of water. The routine was tedious, two trips in the morning and the same in the evening, often walking alone and for several kilometers. The physical strain of the daily chores was overwhelming, leaving the 11-year-old exhausted upon her return.
Despite this, she had to complete this chore before heading to school each morning and before eating dinner in the evening.
Maryam only found respite from the arduous task of fetching water whenever she was menstruating. Her brothers would take up the task for a few days and fetch water, however it was never enough for Maryam to keep herself clean during her period.
The weight of this responsibility took a toll on Maryam, often leaving her exhausted and drained, yet she persisted, fulfilling this crucial duty before attending school each morning.
“I was always tired before going to school in the morning because I had to walk for one hour to fetch water in the morning. By the time I got to school, I could not focus on math, which is my best subject, so I struggled a lot to catch up”
A Beacon of Hope - The Gift of Water Near Home
It seems like Maryam’s prayers were answered a few weeks ago. A group of people came and built a small structure near her home. It was a solar-powered water facility in their village. A gift so precious that Maryam could not hold back her tears.
The burden of long-distance trips and heavy water containers lifted from her young shoulders would soon become a thing of the past. Maryam will now be able to attend school, focusing on her favourite subjects and most importantly, do things that children do at this age, play.
She will also enjoy a sense of relief and security during her menstrual cycle.
Inspired by her mother, Maryam aspires to establish and run a flourishing Fura (a local yoghurt drink) shop one day. “I know that if I learn mathematics well, I can calculate my income and run my business successfully”
With each lesson learned and skill honed, she embraces the opportunity to make her mother proud and contribute to her community. With clean water now at her doorstep, and an unwavering drive to succeed, Maryam paves her own path towards a brighter and safer tomorrow.
*UNICEF and USAID are providing safer drinking water to vulnerable communities in Sokoto State, as part of the Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IWASH) project.*
See Mariam in action here