Roxana Añez is a Bolivian woman and a mother of nine children. She lives in small indigenous community in Tacana Altamarani which is located on the river Beni, three hours downriver from San Buenaventura.
Roxana, an intelligent and driven woman, has always wanted to study and increase her knowledge for the benefit of herself and her community. Unfortunately, because of the social and cultural norms, it has not been possible. Like in many other indigenous communities in Bolivia, a woman’s role is to ‘serve’ her husband and children. This meant that Roxana, like other women in Altamarani, had to spend her days walking to the river bank and back to collect water and to do the washing. After these daily chores, there was no time left for anything else.
“That was our life. To climb up that ravine under the burning sun, with all the bottles of water and clothes that needed washing.”
In 2014, the course of Roxana’s life suddenly changed. This was the year when heavy rains and flooding tormented the little community in Altamarani. Because of the flooding, the people in the community lost over 80 per cent of their crops. In addition, their access to clean water was cut – leaving the whole community on the brink of survival.
Practical Action, in partnership with Christian Aid, responded to the emergency. Based on the analysis of the situation, they quickly identified, that the primary need in the area was clean water. Because of the flooding, the water was difficult to access. In addition to this, the water in river Beni was contaminated, causing severe health problems.
In order to solve the problem, Practical Action installed a solar-powered water pumping system which is a great technology for emergency response because it does not require any fuel costs. Thanks to this new technology, people in Altamarani now have access to clean water at their homes.
Because of the installed water pumping system, Roxana no longer spends her days walking to the river bank and back. This means that she finally has time to educate herself and to do other things she has always dreamt of. Shortly after the pumping system was built, she participated in the agroforestry knowledge exchange programme that thought her new, sustainable ways of farming.
“I have now returned to my community to put all that knowledge into practice. I wish everyone had the opportunity to leave and participate in these kind of activities, so they can learn. I want to keep learning.”
Because of her knowledge and eagerness to learn, Roxana is now one of the leaders in her community. Together with her husband, she owns a farm that produces fruits and medical plants. In the future, Roxana wants to keep on learning and developing herself for the benefit of the community.
Did you enjoy this story? If yes, go to our Mother’s Day site and meet other inspiring women just like Roxana!
Want to help women like Roxana this Mother’s Day? Our Practical Presents Charity Gift shop offers some amazing Mother’s Day gifts that are designed to transform lives. More information here.