‘Walking For Water’: The Lydia Natoolo Story

Clean, safe  drinking water is essential to life. Without water we wouldn’t be alive. It’s unfortunate that today, some people around the world have no source of water. In Africa, these cases are everywhere. There are stories of people who have to walk for miles to the nearest borehole or well. Sometimes before they head off to school in the morning. That water flowing from your taps, the water that you and I take for granted means so much more for others. It is the ‘cradle of life’. Most of those affected are children. I appreciate that it is expensive and most of these organisations have to rely on donations but makes me wonder, why governments won’t take it upon themselves to make this a reality for all their citizens.
And because of this issue, there are some individuals who have decided to try and make a difference in their own little way. One of those individuals is Lydia Natoolo. Lydia is playing many parts in the lives of the people from her home country of Uganda; One of those parts is to bringing safe and clean drinking water to villages all the way from The United States of America. This is just the beginning of her story…

When did you turn into an activist? 

Hi Sister! I am glad you gave me this opportunity to unveil the Lydia no one knew, not even my Parents!  In Summer of  2006, I attended a Pan African meeting at Harvard University, claiming the glory of my patriotism as an African, All was well until one of the students started talking about a civil war in Uganda , headed by Kony. I was a little taken aback, the name sounded familiar but had no clue what was going on. I asked the speaker to please enlighten me on what was actually going on in my own country. From that moment, I was awakened to the reality of the suffering of our people especially the children. Since then to today , I have been a voice for the children affected by the Lord’s resistance Army, raising funds to keep them in school, lobbying at Capitol Hill and raising awareness in schools, churches while in partnership with organization like Invisible Children and Resolve. Through this journey, I have realized my call in life.

What is the ‘Walk for Water’ campaign and why does it mean so much to you?

Walk for water is a campaign that was started by a team of amazing people here in Orange County CA to bring clean water to Uganda. I was contacted by one of the members because  she knew I was from Uganda but also she had heard about my efforts of building a well in Nigeria 2 years ago. This campaign means the world to me because my childhood had a few setback. I grew up in so much poverty in Uganda before I joined you in Rwanda. I was one of those children who used to walk miles and miles to fetch water and to go to school and the memories are painful. No child should be walking miles to fetch water, having a well close to them is my goal.

Why is it so important that wells are built?

I have been in the medical field for 13 years, our body is 80% water, we release many litters of water  on a daily basis, so we have to drink many litters as well in order to balance our inner system and knowing that dirty water is a home for billions of microbes that cause most of the diseases back home is an eye opener to what we ought to do as human beings who are blessed to live in this other world, where almost everyone has running water. The most life threatening diseases for children in Africa and other parts of the world are found where running water is scarce and this is because they drink dirty water.

World Health Organization states that in Uganda alone, 141,000 die of water related disease every year, that is 16 children die every hour due to water related diseases. Most children do not make it to their 5th birthday.  These numbers are disturbing. We as citizens of this wonderful globe, can try to change this. This is all about preventative care, giving our sisters and brothers the basics for a human being to live.  So this is why it is important that every village gets clean water.

Is the campaign working?  

Walk for Walter is a project under another Organization called Hope for kids International. This organisation has built about 200 wells so far, I personally do not work for them, I volunteered with walk for water that organized a walk here in Orange County and on that day I shared my story, My story is similar to so many children in our beautiful continent of Africa.This campaign is changing lives, bringing clean water to villages in Uganda. I am humbled that I was given a chance to share my story.   On this day, money that will be able to build four wells was raised.

Do you get help from NGO’s or the Ugandan govt?

I do not get help from the Ugandan Government or NGO’s. I have been volunteering with many NGO’s which means I do not get paid. I do it because I want to do it, because I want to make a difference. I am committed to see a change in our beautiful continent. The problem is many of our people wait for the Government to start helping and rebuilding communities but I believe we as citizens of our beautiful continent need to start giving back and work for our continent. All I have done for the past eight years is being available for organisations that are doing a great job; keeping children in school, providing micro finance business for mothers, fathers and drilling wells. This has been the best education I could ever get. To be trained to be the voice of my people, I am grateful and humbled to do what I have done voluntarily and I promise to do more. If this is all I have to do in this world, I will never quit.

Any obstacles and challenges that you face along your journey and how have you overcome them? 

I have lost jobs, because I have been called upon to go speak, or lobby at Capitol Hill. I could not say NO because I know first hand how living in poverty hurts. If I am the answer to these children’s prayers to be out of poverty then I will not stop speaking on their behalf. I have lost friends because they have no clue as to why I do the things I do. It is painful to see the suffering of my people, we live in the 21 century, there is no reason why our people should be subjected to the kind of life they live. How I have overcome this is not to give up,I see a bright future for Africa, I see a continent in which every child is going to be given a chance to dream and also given resources to live out their dreams. I have also found great and amazing friends who are coming along side me and empowering me to dream more. Above all my faith has kept me going.

What’s your hope for the future in regards to this campaign?

I pray for this campaign to keep building wells. That we keep ‘walking’ so no more children may have to real walk for miles any more.

What’s next for you? 

I know with the faith God has given me that this is my time to venture out and birth my dreams to life. For my personal journey, I am continuing to get more education, which I value and I am more centred in my faith and I am dreaming bigger. In 15 days am travelling with the medical Team from my Church to go to Uganda on the most remote areas to take medical help and love to my people.  I’m so excited! I am a missionary to my own country, am so empowered and humbled. I am also working on my own projects (will update you on this soon, still working on paperwork) that I will use as a platform to empower the youth, the elders and also forge a way to work with leadership here and back home. Activism is what describes my life, I live it, I breathe it and I love it. My new campaign is to rebuild communities one village at a time starting out with the essence of life, clean water.

About Salha Kaitesi 13 Articles
Mother, Daughter of Rwanda| Founder of Beauty of Rwanda, Executive Editor of Teakisi, Owner of sTesi| I am a Gender Equality and Empowerment Champion| None Of Us Can Move Forward If Half Of Us Are Left Behind

2 Comments

  1. Thank you my dear sister for publishing this story. I went to an event at UCLA and the entire time I was thinking about the most important vital problem we have in Africa is people not having clean water given all the organizations that are building wells. Am so honored that you wrote this article . We have so many wars to fight, a water war is not necessary right now, we can overcome it.
    Am on the move.
    God bless you my dear!
    More to come.
    If anyone wants to join my campaign please contact me (Lydia.natoolo@gmail.com)

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