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Changing the way the world sees water? It’s working for me

Erica Quincey | Belu Brand Director
First day in the new job

Brand Director Erica reflects on her enlightening first few months with Belu.

So it turns out that having a daughter starting secondary school gets you thinking.  More than a decade of wiping noses, writing tiny thank you letters for the tooth fairy, answering questions like ‘does Peppa pig really like bacon for breakfast?,’ and wondering what will happen when they don’t need you as much… And then suddenly they don’t need you as much.

Having my kid reach kidulthood meant more time to make the most of and the potential for a new challenge (also a lot more laundry, but a teen will do that). Add the glimpse of an enticing job spec into the mix and my horizons expanded, ambition tank refuelled and I dragged my CV out of the noughties.

The enticing job was with Belu, a purpose led business… yes, really. Entrepreneurial, diverse, ethical, pro-active and profitable.

It’s also kind. 100% of net profits invested in an ambitious purpose: to change the way the world sees water – and £5.2m given to WaterAid to date. See why I wanted the job?

Starting to work with Belu and learning all about WaterAid got me thinking too. About how easy I’ve had it, raising a daughter in the UK. I don’t mean it’s actually been easy of course – having a baby is terrifying, bringing up a toddler is exhausting and raising a tween is often infuriating – and there are a lot of other challenges that crop up when you least expect them – but before Belu, I had never (unsurprisingly) considered how it might all have been without water.

My bundle of joy was born in a well equipped, well-scrubbed hospital with a big team of well-scrubbed medics. I headed to the hospital safe in the knowledge that floors had been mopped, surfaces sanitised, bedding and bandages laundered. A warm shower was available, plenty of water to drink and even the option of a water birth. The amount of clean water required for all that? …Well, it’s a lot. 

As the team from WaterAid would tell you, it’s very different for many mums-to-be.

In remote districts of Mozambique and Mali, for example, clinics are largely few and far between and often operate with no clean running water. In fact, right now, 1.7 billion people lack basic water services at their healthcare facilities.

When a baby is delivered, the only water may be from a local well, polluted and shared by the community and animals. Often a trek to collect, then heavy to carry – and labouring mothers often have to bring their own.

The harsh reality is that every minute, a newborn baby dies from infection caused by a lack of clean water and an unclean environment. Not ok.

I watched my gorgeous baby girl transform into a toddler and play in the bath most days. She was washed, wiped and wore clean nappies. Cooking up her food was no problem (getting her to eat it definitely no problem) and once her tiny teeth started to appear, there was water on tap to brush them with.

When she was old enough for school, along she went. No need for her to spend her days fetching and carrying water instead of learning, like so many girls worldwide. She doesn’t live with the threat that poor hygiene will make her sick and have to miss school, just like I don’t have to contend with it meaning I can’t get to work.

In many countries, periods are still a huge taboo, which prevents girls from learning how to manage them properly. If schools lack decent toilets and washing facilities, so girls miss classes. Not the case here of course – whilst UK teens might feel a bit embarrassed about the onset of their periods, that’s because everything is ‘sooo embarrassing’ for teens (particularly their mums). Essentially, here we all know you can carry on as normal with your period (including going swimming, or rollerskating in white shorts – should you feel inclined.)

WaterAid have been doing amazing work worldwide to improve things for more than 40 years.

Installing taps and toilets is essential, but they do so much more. To deliver sustainable change for everyone, everywhere, WaterAid brings people together to change laws, attitudes, behaviours, share knowledge and rally support from local communities to national governments. That way, change is possible for millions more.

They lay pipes and run clean water to communities for sure, but more importantly they use robust systems, appropriate technology and work with local communities so they’re trained to manage the maintenance. Bore hole drilling, gravity fed systems, solar pumps or 24 hour atm water kiosks… whatever works best for each particular challenge. And always a future proof solution.

So I’ve been working for 4 months for a business whose purpose is to change the way the world sees water… and I’m seeing water differently -definitely.  WaterAid’s work and the money Belu give to WaterAid, means more babies survive to be toddlers, more toddlers stay well ’til they’re teens and then they get to grow up into healthy, educated, confident, sassy young people. Just like mine has. And I’m very pleased to be a tiny part of that.

Find out more at www.wateraid.org/uk

My daughter – junior brand ambassador.
Image credit: WaterAid | Habibul Haque.
Sadia collects water from a pond sand filter at her community in Shyamnagar, Bangladesh (Sep 2018).

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