Life with Clean Water: Vero

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We first met Vero and her baby girl Tompoina in Tsarafangitra, Madagascar over a year ago. Back then, Vero was walking more than 3 kilometres a day to collect water from a dirty pond. This was her only access to water. Vero's daily trek consisted of walking down a dusty road, which led to a path ending at a small, bumpy hill. She would then make her way down that hill to the dirty pond, some times with her young daughter strapped on her back.

Each day, Vero would fill her jerrycan with water. Water that she knew would make her and her family sick, but at the time, she had no other choice.

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All of that changed six months ago, when construction of the water taps in Tsarafangitra were complete. Together, with the rest of her village, Vero celebrated the arrival of clean water. This was the first time in her life that Vero tasted what we taste every day - clean water. 

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The arrival of clean water in Tsarafangitra symbolizes more than development in the village. It means that Vero, her daughter and everyone, everywhere in Tsarafangitra will have a better livelihood, better health, a better chance at gaining an education; they will be able to profit from work and breaking the cycle of poverty.

With access to clean water, Vero and her daughter Tompoina are all smiles. They have direct access to clean water. Vero can spend more time with her young daughter and focus on what matters. This was all made possible thanks to your support👏💕! 

WATCH below to see how Life with Clean Water has changed Vero's life!

Photos and video by Ernest Randriarimalala/ WaterAid

We can't turn back time, but we can give time back.

EMPOWERING WOMEN AND YOUNG GIRLS THROUGH ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION. 

Imagine the thoughtless parts of your day. Think about all the moments in the day you barely have to think at all. The instances when we all go on autopilot; when we’re driving in traffic and not paying attention or subconsciously dodging the 5,000 advertisements force fed to us daily. 

It’s only until someone or something jolts us into the present, where we can actively pull ourselves out of what I like to call robotic-mode and have conscious capacity to be actively aware. 

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Madagascar’s lack of access to clean water is much like this. It’s the background noise that you can faintly hear but aren’t really listening to. An inherent problem we all know exists, yet fail to recognize.  Our Western World breeds a culture of complainers. In Madagascar, there is no time to protest or fuss. No time to dwell on the corrupt government and the poor state of its people.

Similarly, there is no choice but to oblige the treacherous task of walking for water everyday, because it's a matter of life and death - even if the dirty water only promises disease and death itself. A duty that literally falls on the shoulders of young females.

Attending the Study Tour in Madagascar this year was the shake I desperately needed to wake up. It drew back the curtains and shed light on how no access to this basic human right, squanders all opportunity and hope for an improved quality of life. 

Visiting the district of Belabavary, I learned that the happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they simply make the best of everything they have.

One of the villages in the district had been fortunate enough to receive a clean water tap within the last year and one of those taps I had the honour of inaugurating alongside the Mayor and community elder; Dadabe. A dance party that lasted all day was a true tribute and celebration of [new] life. 

I got to witness firsthand how water to the Malagasy people is worth more than gold. It symbolizes a pathway to a brighter future; one with safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices for all.

I used to drag my heels walking to class or stumble to the sink in the middle of the night, half awake yearning for a much-needed sip. Why is our hugely unappreciative nature so wrongly assumptive and entitled? Relativity on this specific occasion is not an equitable argument; it’s just not good enough. 

The profound paradox between our two cultures is impossible to ignore. 

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Spending the day in Amberomena, the pre-intervention village, was eye opening to say the least.

The respect and regard I had for these women before coming here was unfathomable. After walking in their shoes for a short simulated period of time [I use that figuratively as most Malagasy women perform this 3 km walk for water barefoot] - the feeling I’m left with is discerning.

No amount of hitting the gym or lifting weights could’ve ever prepared me for the hike that was walking with 40 lbs of water on my head. The crushing feeling of its heaviness and the contaminated water trickling down the side of my face, physically took a toll. But beyond the strain on my body was the hurt I felt in my heart. The routine reality here for young girls just like me, is what I can only describe as a distant nightmare. 

The moment I set that jerrycan down - i felt like I had just finished a marathon. 

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My reward? Never having to do it again. 

This was followed by the unimaginable amount of guilt I felt wishing for the walk to be over. How dare I wish for something to be over knowing I’d never have to repeat it? 

I’d never have to do that walk again or drink the water, I should’ve been relieved but all I felt was a deep sense of despair. These women do this everyday, multiple times a day - without a whine and certainly without a whimper. 

Just because grievances are not at the forefront of their daily focus, doesn’t mean these women don’t wish things to be different, for them and generations to follow. 

They want to have safe access. They crave responsibility and accountability over their clean water source. 

They wish to cherish its powerful ability to change the status quo and they truly treasure the results when it does. 

Imagine if these women were given the equal opportunity I was given, just by being born in a first world country? That opportunity is luck of the draw - but access to clean water isn’t. Or at least, it shouldn’t be and it doesn’t have to be. 

How could something so necessary and mundane as this daily chore seem so heroic? If we gave girls in Madagascar back their time - a purpose beyond the tedious and tiresome - we’d give them more than just minutes. We’d be opening a door to their wildest dreams, of an education and beyond. 

These women are my heroes. Does that mean we are the villain’s for leading a vastly different life? No. 

Is our Western society to blame for contributing to wasteful water practices and over-consumption driven by consumerism? Undeniably. 

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What I am certain of however is that WE CAN all learn something from this third world enigma. The immense gratitude found in the face of adversity is inspiring on so many levels and has motivated me beyond words. 

We have an obligation and duty to our Global Village and just because it seems far away, does not mean it doesn’t hit home. WE CAN care enough, simply because WE CAN. 

We may not be able to bring back time, but we can try to give time back - to mothers, women and young girls. 

Envision the life these women could lead with more time to participate in education, employment, leisure activities and decision-making? 

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The overwhelming joy and positive vibrations I felt in my time on the Study Tour 2017, is unprecedented and unparalleled - because the people of Madagascar understand what’s most important in this life; they know what it means to help each other, to build each other up, to support one another and to honour what they do have. 

50% of people in Madagascar may lack of access to clean water, but they are leaders in their unmatched sense of unity and spirit. So much so it begs the question: what would this country be if they gained comparable access to clean water? 

What would it look like if we eradicated cholera and diminished deaths caused by preventable and treatable diarrheal diseases? It would be much healthier for one, and offer a secure foundation to a culture that supersedes ours in so many other ways, but this solvable one. 

Let’s bridge the gap between being passive and taking action. Let’s acknowledge our eroding perceptions and focus on making meaningful connections with the truth; the prospective certainty that comes with access to clean water and the unrivaled promise for women in Madagascar that comes along with it. 

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Celebrate World Water Day!

March 22nd is World Water Day - a day about taking action to tackle the water crisis. 

Water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development.

Today, there are over 844 million people living without safe water, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water (UN). 

How can you help?
STAND UP FOR CLEAN WATER

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Stand Up for Clean Water, Stand Up for Women

March 8th is International Women's Day, a day to take action for gender equality and celebrate women's achievements. Worldwide, millions of women and girls endure the task of collecting water for their families. This strenuous responsibility takes women out of profitable work and girls out of school. It often leaves them sick, injured and away from their family. 

We want to thank you for your continued support. It empowers women and girls, and strengthens their livelihoods.

Meet the Women and Girls of Amberomena, Madagascar

 Fleurette is 15 years old and in her final year of school. Her dreams are to get married to someone in her village, and live a healthy, happy life with her family. She currently collects water twice a day with her sister. She knows access to clean water will change her life and give her time to focus on building her life. 

Fleurette is 15 years old and in her final year of school. Her dreams are to get married to someone in her village, and live a healthy, happy life with her family. She currently collects water twice a day with her sister. She knows access to clean water will change her life and give her time to focus on building her life. 

 Finaritra is 21 years old and has 7 siblings. She is shy and loves reading. She hopes to one day get married and have a successful life. With clean water, she will keep her family and home clean. She collects water from a nearby pond every day with her mother and sisters. 

Finaritra is 21 years old and has 7 siblings. She is shy and loves reading. She hopes to one day get married and have a successful life. With clean water, she will keep her family and home clean. She collects water from a nearby pond every day with her mother and sisters. 

 Angeline is 19 years old. She has 7 siblings, loves to talk but is sometimes shy. She was born and has lived in Amberomena her own life. She collects water 3 times a day with her mother. Health is her number one priority and she believes clean water will give her and her family just that. 

Angeline is 19 years old. She has 7 siblings, loves to talk but is sometimes shy. She was born and has lived in Amberomena her own life. She collects water 3 times a day with her mother. Health is her number one priority and she believes clean water will give her and her family just that. 

 Rasoanantena is a 37 year old mother of 4. Her 4 kids were born in a hospital that lacks clean water. She collects water from a nearby pond with her daughter every day. Her dream for her children is to gain an education and live a healthy life. She knows clean water will help them succeed. 

Rasoanantena is a 37 year old mother of 4. Her 4 kids were born in a hospital that lacks clean water. She collects water from a nearby pond with her daughter every day. Her dream for her children is to gain an education and live a healthy life. She knows clean water will help them succeed. 

 Ramanantena is 40 years old. She was born in Amberomena and gave birth to all of her children in this village. She has lived here her whole life. Together with her daughter, Ramanantena collects water daily. She knows that access to clean water will help her have a clean and healthy home.

Ramanantena is 40 years old. She was born in Amberomena and gave birth to all of her children in this village. She has lived here her whole life. Together with her daughter, Ramanantena collects water daily. She knows that access to clean water will help her have a clean and healthy home.

 Marie Madeleine is 60 years and lives with her 6 family members. She loves gardening and knows that clean water will help her garden flourish. She hopes that with access to clean water, her grandkids will have more time for school. She hopes they'll never have to collect water the way she did as a child. 

Marie Madeleine is 60 years and lives with her 6 family members. She loves gardening and knows that clean water will help her garden flourish. She hopes that with access to clean water, her grandkids will have more time for school. She hopes they'll never have to collect water the way she did as a child. 


Special Holiday Offer with your One Life order!

Ray Civello traveled with WaterAid Canada to Kenya to witness the life changing work being done in rural communities that WaterAid supports. With his eye for visual creativity, Ray captured portraits of the children who benefit from Aveda Earth Month. Ray brings together his passion for photography and his passion for this cause through One Life, a book of portraits and stories from Kenya.
Photography by Ray Civello
Epilogue by Margaret Trudeau

Enjoy a special holiday offer with your One Life purchase!

Place your order of One Life by Wednesday, December 13th and receive a special gift of Misaotra thank you cards! The illustration on these cards were drawn by children in Ambonidobo, Madagascar!

#WorldToiletDay 2017

"World Toilet Day is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Today, 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.
The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to a safely-managed household toilet by 2030. This makes sanitation central to eradicating extreme poverty." (www.worldtoiletday.info)

TOILET FACTS

1) Nearly 1.5 million children under the age of five die every year from diarrhea globally.

2) Diarrhoeal diseases are the second most common cause of death of young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and resulting in 1 death every 20 seconds.

3) Toilets have added 20 years to the human lifespan over the past 2 centuries.

4) In rich nations, 30% of clean water is used to flush poo into sewers.

5) No toilet, so they have to defacte in the open: 1.1 billion.

6) 40% of people worldwide don’t have a safe and healthy way to defecate.

7) 90% of diarrhea cases are caused by food or water contaminated by feces.

8) Feces is responsible for more than 50% of the 9 million preventable child deaths each year.

9) The estimated number of grams of fecal matter consumed everyday by people without a toilet is 10 grams.

10) One gram of poo is home to 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasites and 100 worm eggs.

11) 2.5 billion people do not have access to a clean and safe toilet.

12) There are 40,000 active germs per square inch on a public restroom toilet handle.

13) Toilets have added 20 years to the human lifespan over the past 2 centuries.

14) You will spend 3 years of your life on your toilet.

15) Washing hands could save 3.5 million kids lives every year.

16) Together, all of us produce 7 billion liters of poo every day.

17) Estimated annual gain in economic productivity if everyone had a toilet: $225 billion.

18) $9.5B would give a toilet to half  (1.3 billion) the people who need one. The annual gain from that investment would translate to $63B.

19) A whopping 600 million or 53 per cent of India’s population take a dump in the open.

20) The economic burden of not having adequate sanitation facilities drains the Indian economy of $54 billion annually.

Building a new water facility

A lot goes into the construction of new water taps and facilities!
Take a behind-the-scenes look of what it took to build the irrigation system for new taps in Tsarafangitra, Madagascar 💙!

Locals of Tsarafangitra work with WaterAid's local partner, FIKRIFAMA, to dig trenches and lay the pipes - all leading to the final result of new water taps. It truly takes a village to build something to life-changing!

A Big Day in Tsarafangitra!

This past February, we introduced you to four mothers from Tsarafangitra, Madagascar: Raoly, Miora, Vero and Veronique. We followed their daily journey for water, which consisted of a 3 km walk to and from a dirty, contaminated pond. This was the only water source accessible to the village. Raoly, Miora, Vero, Veronique and thousands of mothers like them spent hours a day collecting water, taking away time from their children, paid labour and other crucial tasks.

Now, everything has changed. Because of your support this Earth Month 2017, Tsarafangitra has access to clean, drinkable water. No more walking for water, no more preventable sickness, all because of you!

Learn more about Collega + Aveda Earth Month's work in Madagascar.

WATCH! Clean water arrives in Tsarafangitra!

Access to clean water gives her more time for what matters.

Meet the Study Tour 2017 Team!

 This October, members of the Collega + Aveda network will embark on a journey of a lifetime as part of the annual Study Tour of Madagascar. They’ll see exactly who Earth Month supports and how this campaign is changing thousands of lives by providing access to clean, drinkable water. They'll witness WaterAid in action making a difference in local communities, meet the people featured in our Earth Month campaigns, and explore this beautiful island!

This October, members of the Collega + Aveda network will embark on a journey of a lifetime as part of the annual Study Tour of Madagascar. They’ll see exactly who Earth Month supports and how this campaign is changing thousands of lives by providing access to clean, drinkable water. They'll witness WaterAid in action making a difference in local communities, meet the people featured in our Earth Month campaigns, and explore this beautiful island!

 Aubrey Boerh, BRIO Salonspa raised $7,505!

Aubrey Boerh, BRIO Salonspa raised $7,505!

Betty raised $8,100+ from selling her home-cooked meals!! What was her fundraising inspiration?

“The more I know about the world water crisis and this cause, the more I want to do something, which is what inspired me throughout my fundraising journey. Reading other people's stories on social media and blogs of how impacting this cause is has motivated me during my fundraising!”

 Melanie Whitemore, Civello Salon raised $8,795

Melanie Whitemore, Civello Salon raised $8,795

Darlene has traveled to Ethiopia, Kenya and Madagascar with WaterAid to see the programs that have been implemented with the support from #earthmonthCA. Darlene has spent the past 11 years managing the annual Earth Month campaign, which has raised over $4.5 million for WaterAid. Since 2011, Darlene has hosted a Toronto-based event, H20TORONTO, which has raised $170,000 for clean water projects throughout eastern Africa in support of WaterAid. This Study Tour will be her third visit to Madagascar!

 Heather Tytula, BRIO Salonspa raised $7,503!

Heather Tytula, BRIO Salonspa raised $7,503!

Vanessa is part of the Marketing team at Collega International.

“Vanessa wants to live in a world where books come wrapped in chocolate, pollution turns into power, and no one ever cared how silly they looked when dancing. Toronto is my birthplace but Europe feels like home. Endlessly inspired by all forms of art, fueled by warm interactions with strangers, and driven by ambition to make a difference. Kind people are my kind of people!”

 Gabo Hernandez, Civello raised $7,505!

Gabo Hernandez, Civello raised $7,505!

“I have been inspired by Earth Month this year because I took the time to grasp and sit with the idea of not having clean water. It is unsettling and makes me uncomfortable knowing that the world, that every human being on this planet, doesn't have the same privilege that I do. This state of discomfort inspires action for me because the fact that many live without safe water is not okay. It is my passion to work with others, to engage, and to care for the people in this world. I believe we are all so important.”

 Betty Paguandas, Collega raised $8,100

Betty Paguandas, Collega raised $8,100

“I'm a mother, a wife, a makeup artist and a water warrior! I've been fundraising for WaterAid for the past 11 years but 7 years ago I began working on small fundraisers for the cause. I can't wait to visit Madagascar and meet the people who are the reason we do all this. I know that meeting the mothers and children, seeing what their lives are like will make me a more compassionate and enlightened human and mother. I truly believe access to clean drinking water is a basic human right and I can't wait to see the Earth Month funds in action!”

 Darlene Paguandas, Collega International

Darlene Paguandas, Collega International

Heather is the proud owner of BRIO Salonapa in Lethbridge, AB. She is all about giving back to an industry that has treated her so well. WaterAid is also something she believes very strongly in, and loves to rally her team to catch her passion for giving. She also has a keen business sense, and when not empowering her team through knowledge, she is busy seeking knowledge herself. Heather is known internationally as a great Salon Owner, Business coach and Mentor.

 Vanessa Fratia, Collega raised $7,700!

Vanessa Fratia, Collega raised $7,700!

Gabo raised $7,505 for clean water projects! What was his inspiration?...

"For me, Earth Month is an opportunity to give back, contribute and be part of a change, it's a away to create awareness but most importantly to show what we can do when we all come together!"

Rami Accomeh & Nick Kachibaia, photographers and videographers will be documenting the Study Tour of Madagascar.