Of all her worries since escaping the violence in Myanmar, Nur Banu is thankful that she no longer fears being sexually harassed while fetching water for her children.
“This water pump means a lot to me and my neighbours,” she shares, referring to the deep-tube well that World Vision, in partnership with UNICEF, installed near her tent. It is one of 54 deep-tube wells that provide fresh, safe water to 54,000 refugees.
Nur Banu used to walk 30 to 40 minutes just to fetch water from a canal. She always went with a group of women for fear of being sexually assaulted. Some 5,617 cases of gender-based violence have been reported in the camps since August 2017, according to a recent Inter-sector Coordination Group report. The risk of assault, Nur Banu says, increases at night because of insufficient lighting in the refugee camps.
If Nur Banu collected water during the day, she had to take her children, age 7 and 2, with her on the long hot walk. Her husband couldn’t stay with them because he had to queue up for food and other relief items being distributed in the camp.
“There have been stories of children being kidnapped, so I couldn’t leave them alone in our tent,” says Nur Banu. “I didn’t mind if I had to keep going back to get more water, as long as I was sure that my children were safe.”
Sadly, the contaminated canal water made Nur Banu’s whole family sick. Her children, and her husband often suffered from diarrhea.
Now with clean water just a stone’s throw away from their tent, Nur is at peace. She doesn’t have to worry about her children catching water-borne diseases, or their safety.
Nur Banu’s daughter, Jannat, 7, likes the new well, too. “Now I can drink as much water as I want without having to walk far with my mother to get more. I have more time to play and I don’t have to walk in the hot sun.”
Jannat helps her mother by fetching water with her own small bucket. “I am not worried when she goes to the pump because I can watch her from our tent,” says Nur Banu, smiling. “May God bless all the people who are helping us.”
To help more families, World Vision recently received a $1.7 million (USD) grant from UNICEF to install 56 additional deep-tube wells and construct 1,850 latrines, as well as safe bathing spaces for women and girls. The one-year project will benefit some 1.2 million people in the refugee camps and surrounding communities.