FORMER Beaudesert State High School captain Pauline Egan has come home for a visit after spending the last three years helping bring clean water to remote communities in Mozambique.
Ms Egan said she had studied nursing at QUT after graduating high school in 2002 because she already knew she wanted to work in remote areas of developing countries, specifically Africa.
“But after university I ended up in Canada and involved in the film industry, acting and making films,” she said.
“I produced a short film that made it to the Hollywood Film Festival and while I was there I watched a documentary called My Name is Water.
“I sought out the maker of that film, Justin Arana, and asked him if he had anyone running his health program over there.
“He and a very dear friend, Sylvestre Uqueio were co-founders of Water Underground, drilling water wells in Mozambique, and I came on board as a co-director.”
Ms Egan gained qualifications in primary health in developing countries from Flinders University while still living in Canada and six months after the Hollywood Film Festival she was more than ready to move to the U.S and prepare for her first field trip to Africa.
“I came on board as a co-director at Water Underground and my first trip to Mozambique was in 2015,” she said.
“Now I spend part of the year in L.A and part of the year in Mozambique. Up to now we have helped 27,000 people in 17 communities gain access to clean water.”
She said her role was mainly training people in health, hygiene and nutrition but she was also responsible for designing toilets in schools and even building them herself.
“We drill bores, install toilets and hand washing facilities, build gardens with drip irrigation systems and offer them health training,” she said.
“It also helps keep girls in school. In these areas girls often leave school after puberty because they don’t have any private facilities and also it is the job of the women to fetch the water from the nearest river.
“This can take six to eight hours a day, and girls as young as eight get this job, so having access to clean water at school really does empower them to get an education.”
Ms Egan credits her upbringing on a Palen Creek dairy farm for providing her with the tools to cope with life in Africa.
“You wouldn’t think there would be any familiarity but the core values of family, getting by and living off the land have really helped me,” she said.
“My upbringing taught me to make the best of difficult situations and we were in drought too, although it is a different situation in Mozambique I arrived there already knowing how important water is.
"I’ve become part of the local community in Massinga district.
“Even though I look a little different, the people have embraced me and welcomed me into their families and it truly is very special.”
Ms Egan said she tries to come home for at least a month every year and even though her parents no longer have the dairy farm they still live at Christmas Creek.
To find out more about Water Underground visit water-underground.org