Vivian Story: “I wish to have a closer water source”

Vivian and her younger sister prepares the canoe that they will use to fetch water.

Vivian detached the set of water containers tied together from the wall outside their home. Most of the containers can carry 6 liters while the bigger ones can store over 10 liters. Accompanied by her younger sister, they head to the wooden canoe parked in a nearby bank and rowed away to fetch clean water.

The 13-year-old girl is the third child among eight siblings. Both parents earn by gathering and selling firewood to their neighbors. They live in a community near an estuary – a body of water where the river and the sea meets. Ironically, access to clean water is a significant challenge of the family, despite being surrounded by water.

Without having their own faucet or even a communal water source, Vivian’s family needs to cross the river and fetch clean water located in the other side of the bank. They pay P5 ($0.10) to fill up the large containers and P1 ($0.02) for the small ones.

The family uses the water for drinking and cooking. During wet season, they only fetch twice a week since they can store rainwater. In the absence of rain, they do it more frequent. For washing the dishes, bathing and urinal use, the family fetches water from the river.

“Thankfully, my children don’t get sick that often, especially from water-borne illnesses. When they have fever or cold, I just buy over-the-counter medicines,” shared Vivian’s mother.


Hoping for change

The task of fetching water is often assigned to Vivian, the oldest among the daughters. Her three older brothers are mostly away to gather wood, while her parents are busy chopping and bundling the firewood. Vivian is sometimes accompanied by one of her younger sisters. They go by pair because it is risky to ride the canoe with more than two persons.

Vivian has been crossing the river to fetch water since she was eight years old. It was when their family transferred to the village five years ago. At first, she would join her father or one her brothers and observe how they rowed their way to other side of the river. Over the years, she has mastered the rowing, but she still feels scared sometimes, especially if the current suddenly becomes stronger.

Vivian’s parents and five younger siblings.

Despite having mastered the rowing of the paddle and carrying gallons of water, there is still no getting used to the risky and tedious work for Vivian. She still hopes for a change. “I wish that there will be a closer water source in our village,” she said. “I will work hard in my studies so that I can find a job and save money. I will help my family have a better life,” she added.

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