When we sit behind our computers or staring down at our phones, we can be disconnected from the realities on the ground. Behind every photo, every update and every post on social media, there are real people with real stories. This is one of them:
Bento, 25 years old:
Bento learned farming from his parents. When he finished high school, he went back to his village to help the family with farming. Bento has no other way to bring income to help his family; sometimes he gets contracts to purchase cashew nuts (which grow wild throughout the country) for local businesses in Bissau, but this is highly unreliable with a changing climate and the price of cashews depending heavily on the political situation in the country at the time, which is often tumultuous.
Bento has desire to learn masonry, he wanted to be a builder many years ago but had no opportunity to gain the necessary training. When WellFound came to his village in and informed the community that two people in the village will have the chance to undergo training in mechanics and construction, Bento was thankful that the community selected him and another man, called Faustino, for the training.
When he returned to their community, they helped to construct 21 latrines. During the construction, the two young men became known throughout their community as “the builders of WellFound”.
WellFound awarded a contract to Bento and Faustino to construct walls around manual water pumps and to help build 35 latrines in the nearby villages of Wapte and Paile.
Since then, Bento has been very busy and has had contract after contract. In his first year, Bento built four houses for local families, earning valuable income for his family. In his second year, he built six houses for his extended family and this year so far Bento, along with Faustino has built five houses and now Bento is helping with latrine construction for the church in his village.
At WellFound we do not think it is enough to simply install wells and latrines. Whilst these resources are absolutely vital, there are still many barriers preventing people from moving out of extreme poverty. Two key factors are income and sustainability. Ensuring that the residents of communities like Wapte and Paile are able to maintain the new latrines, wells, and market gardens into the future for generations to come makes these projects truly sustainable with positive changes which are lasting. This also applies to health too; WellFound and the communities we partner with, must be sure that the knowledge from the health, hygiene and sanitation training programmes is not lost, and is able to be passed down to ensure a healthy future for all. As Bento’s story shows, providing training for young people who would otherwise not have the opportunity, can provide steady, reliable and much-needed income for families living in these remote and isolated areas.
By partnering with communities to not only provide water and toilets but also skills, knowledge and employment opportunities we are able to tackle the root causes of poverty, helping people to have a healthier and more prosperous life.