Water is Life

Can you imagine not having water access from a tap in your home? For Mila, and more than half of all South African households, this is a reality. She shares a communal tap with more than 100 other people. The space around the tap used to be muddy and littered, and often, she would arrive to find that the tap was broken. Her children were repeatedly sick from playing in the dirt while she queued. Sometimes, the water leaked out of the tap and into the house down-slope. The tap frequently had no water during the day and Mila would have to wait until late at night to walk the dangerous route home, loaded with heavy, 25 kg buckets.


Now, Mila’s world has changed.

Her community transformed the tap into an Emthonjeni. Each day, she relishes the hour or so she spends there. For her, the tap is a place of gathering and chatter. The water from the tap is clean and healthy. While Mila does her laundry, her youngest child attends the play school, where he learns how to count and clean his hands through playing with friends. There is never a quiet moment. Friends and families gather in the sunshine, sitting out on the benches to chat and play cards. If there is ever a problem with the water supply, a locally trained maintenance team are on call to repair it, and Mila has joined the local Neighbourhood Watch who help to keep the Emthonjeni and walkways safe. She loves the leafy shade provided by the tree planted there, and that she can speak to her friends over her work.

“The Emthonjeni has turned my chores into a fun activity where I can watch my child and spend time with my friends. It’s the place that our community comes together.”


Story told by Emma Hosking

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