Her name is hard to pronounce. But her laughter is even harder to forget. We first met Wariankira at a village meeting. She had a really dignified manner but when you looked closely, she also had a quiet sadness.
Regardless of her elected position on the school board committee, Wariankira was also selected as one of the families most in need of assistance in her community. She lives in a village called Lerai in the Maji ya Chai ward, in northern Tanzania and the leadership of her community has given us a list of the families most in need of water and food security.
It is 2018 when we first arrived at her home. She is in a state of desperation. Her son, soon to be taking his national exams has woken in the morning blind. For this family and so many like them, education is the key to freedom. If her son does not take the national exam, his education will end in the 7th grade.
After promising to get him medical attention, we spoke about her life and the other challenges she is facing.
In 2006, Wariankira’s husband, father to their 6 children and grandfather to one, bid them a good day and justify to go find work. It was just like any other morning. Except on this day, he never returns.
They no money saved, there was no food for their kids to eat and the closest water source is a 6 hour walk from their home. Once the long walk is done, there is another 6 hours of waiting in line for water poisoned by high levels of natural fluoride. There were no other options. Until now.
Weeks later, 2 more children arrive at her doorstep. Her sister has died in an accident, orphaning her two kids whose father was also nowhere to be found.
And there it is. The quiet pain present in her, now met by a flood of tears as she tells her story.
She struggled. Her heart was broken. Her health began to suffer but she knew if she stopped searching for work, 9 children would starve. She says nothing made her happy but in front of people, she always presented joy. “It could always be worse,” she says. Each day and every night, she prayed from help.
Wariankira’s son got the medicine he needed and healed. His eyesight returned and he took his national exams and did incredibly well and is now in secondary school.
It became clear that the best way to serve Wariankira was to offer her a job and give her the ability to know security for the family she was solely responsible for.
Within a month of meeting her, she received a rainwater harvesting system at her home and a garden that feeds her whole family. She has been working with Save the Rain as a builder of rainwater harvesting systems and she specializes in organic gardening ever since. Her work allows her to pay for school fees for her kids and offers her a daily ladder to her joy.
When asked what she loves most about her job, she answers, “Everything.” She takes a moment and looks away. After much contemplation, she returns my gaze and answers again. “I love to be a part of the solution for others. I know now I was never alone in my struggle. I love giving that peace and knowing to others who are in the same struggle I was. I love who I work with every day. I love the laughter we share with each other and with the people we are helping. I love that we sing and dance as we build. I have a new family of sisters and no matter what, from the moment I started working with Save the Rain, I knew I would never be alone again.”
Wariankira sends you her prayers and wants you to know that you too are never alone.