Mary makes Splash in Uganda

19th September 2008 at 01:00
Teacher returns from her trip, where she learned life-changing lessons about water

Mary Watkins, a peripatetic teacher, will never look at a glass of water in the same way again.

From city slums, where drinking water comes from a contaminated spring, to rural farmsteads, where people walk miles to collect muddy water from a swamp, she says her recent trip to Uganda was life changing. "It was an overwhelming experience," she told TES Cymru a week after her return.

The valuable and humbling experience is one she will now share with thousands of pupils in Wales.

Mrs Watkins taught at Gaer Junior School in Newport for 20 years before taking up a peripatetic role last year with Welsh Water.

She spent 10 days in the east African country with charity workers from WaterAid.

Twenty per cent of under-fives in Uganda, one of Africa's poorest countries, die of waterborne illnesses. But it costs less than pound;15 to provide someone with a lasting supply of safe water and sanitation.

In areas where WaterAid has intervened, there is hope.

Mrs Watkins saw eco-latrines in action, which recycled human waste and reused it as pesticide and fertiliser.

At one remote village, they had gone from having no water or sanitation to having three fresh water supplies and latrines.

Mrs Watkins is now tailoring her experiences into pupil-friendly lessons examining the value of water and telling younger pupils about the adventures of glove puppet Splash, an otter from Uganda.

Mrs Watkins is available to talk to schools about her trip.

WaterAid projects and teachers' resources at


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