‘Walking For Water’: The Lydia Natoolo Story
When did you turn into an activist?
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?
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.