Saturday, February 27, 2010


Today I had a truly African experience. For the past couple of days we haven’t had running water so the older kids having been going to the well to fetch water and this morning I decided I was going with them. I asked Cesar and, as I expected, he said it was too far, the terrain was too difficult, etc. but I insisted and he finally agreed. So, we headed off down the road, “my children” (what everyone in the community calls them when they see us together) and I, each one carrying a jug, the youngest two girls holding onto my hands. The well is only about ten minutes away but it is not an easy walk. First you head down a very steep hill, then you have to cross a shallow stream and then continue up another very steep hill on a narrow path with small trees and bushes on either side. The whole way it is very slippery as the rain from the night before has turned the dirt to sheer mud. (Barbara, the whole thing makes the walk to the beach in Jamaica feel like a paved highway). The younger kids struggled a bit but the older ones helped them along the way and the youngest girl even got on the oldest boy’s back to cross the stream. I slipped a few times but caught myself every time, managing to avoid landing in the mud. We reached the well, the kids filled their jugs and then we turned around and headed back. The whole thing took about half an hour being that the way back is longer as the kids move slower carrying those heavy jugs of water and stop to take short breaks along the way. By the time you get back to the house you’re filthy but you do your best to use as little water as possible to wash up otherwise you render the whole journey rather useless.

Being in Africa, having to pay for bottled water to drink, brush my teeth, etc. always makes me appreciate the easy access to clean water that we have back home but today brought that appreciation to a whole new level. Today I realized just how rich we are here and by here yes, I mean here at the orphanage. Although by Western standards they have almost nothing here, having running water alone (not to mention electricity, three meals a day, etc.) makes us rich. There are many others in this community who do not have running water, for whom that trek to the well is not an occasional inconvenience but a daily reality. We passed other children along the way today, some of them as young as our preschoolers, walking alone, carrying jugs bigger than the ones our kids were carrying. Still, even those children are among the fortunate ones as at least the water they are collecting is clean and clear. As we walked back from the well, I couldn’t help but think about the countless children across this continent who were also on their way to collect water this morning, only they would walk twice as far, perhaps even further, to fill their jugs with dirty water from a contaminated stream. Oh how rich we are indeed.

Note: The following pictures are from another day... Unlike the first time I went with the kids to collect water, early in the morning when it was muddy and slippery, these pictures were taken on a sunny afternoon when the path was dry. Nevertheless, to let you know just how difficult the walk is, even without the mud myself along with several of the kids slipped several times. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take pictures at the actual well as there were several women there washing clothes, one of whom was topless... Still, I hope this helps to give you a bit of idea of what the experience is like.  



No comments: