In February, Eva, a 16-year-old girl from a rural village in Tanzania, asked her government a simple but powerful question: Will you listen to me? Today, she got her answer!
After Eva and her classmates at Mlowa school wrote a letter to their local leaders last year, asking for water and sanitation facilities to be provided at their school, they were ignored. So instead of giving up, she decided to team up with ONE and Restless Development to start her own campaign asking you to #StandWithEva—and you did!
In just four months, 150,000 of you have joined your voice with Eva’s and asked the Tanzanian government to provide Eva and her classmates with water at their school, so that they can stay in class and learn, as opposed to using precious lesson time walking to collect water.
— Oscar Kimaro (@Osckim) 2 June 2016
Today, along with her classmates, Eva met with the Tanzanian Prime Minister to deliver this message:
My name’s Eva. I’m 16 years old. I’ve lived all my life with my family in Malinzanga, a small village in Tanzania.
There are lots of problems with my village. One of the biggest problems that we face is the lack of water.
Me and my classmates have to walk 7 kilometers to fetch water from the nearby river. The whole community uses the the same river for cooking, cleaning, washing and drinking. This means many people get stomach ache and other diseases. And for girls, it’s making the journey for water can be dangerous. Some are assaulted, resulting in early pregnancies and forced marriages too.
But I’m not here today to only tell you about the problems we face. I’m here to tell you how we can stand up, be heard, and solve them. And why you should too.
I’ve learned that the voice of young people like me is important and should be heard. Last year I decided to take action. I decided to use my voice to bring about change in my village.
I wrote a letter to President Barack Obama calling for leaders to commit and deliver their promises. And he replied. He even read my speech at the global summit where the Sustainable Development Goals were agreed. Something big like this has never happened in my family. I felt happy and it inspired me to do more locally about the lack of water.
In February, me and my classmates launched a petition to speak up about this issue to you, our leaders. Roughly 150,000 people have signed the petition. I never expected that so many people would support us, people from all over the world. We even got our District Commissioner to sign the petition!
We believe that if we can attract the attention of the leaders, then changes can take place in Malinzanga.
I want to achieve a better life for me, my family and the whole community,but we – my whole community, and young people like me everywhere – need to work together with our leaders.
It is you, our leaders who must help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. Today, I am asking; how will you help us achieve one of these Goals and help us get clean water in Malinzanga? With the whole world watching, this is Tanzania’s chance to show leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals and secure a better future for its citizens.
My final message is to my fellow young people. My petition is just the beginning. Let’s believe in ourselves, if we use our voices, we will be heard and we can change our lives for the better!
This is an amazing moment, not only for Eva and our incredible members who’ve helped to make this possible, but for young people everywhere who want to make a change in this world.