Chances are, you don't know about the global water crisis.
I didn't either...until this week.
Water. It's such an important thing. Plants, animals, and humans all need it to survive. However, 1 in 9 people do not have access to safe, clean drinking water. 37% of these people live in sub-saharan Africa (my neighbors). 1 out of every 5 deaths of children under 5 is because of a water-related disease. In developing countries, 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Less than one in three people in sub-saharan Africa have access to a proper toilet.
These are my neighbors and this is my semi-reality.
I am waging an internal war over water. I am not a peace corps volunteer and my contract has minimum standards that include running water. Yesterday, a crew of friendly folk took over my house for 5 hours giving it a facelift - I got a toilet (!!!), a mirror, a fan, an outside light, and a shower head that shines with it's newness. The only thing is, the shower head is all for show. The bucket remains and no water comes out when the nob is turned.
I was told this morning by my supervisor that because it is dry season I will have no water and must use the jerrycans (big plastic tubs). Perhaps there is hope for water in the rainy season, he said. This is vastly different than what was said to the embassy when they approved my housing. And I am not sure if I should just accept my bucket-bath fate or be like, "hey - I have a contract and it doesn't say this...."
Last night I really, really needed to wash my hair and have a good body scrub so I boiled 3 kettles of water and mixed it into a bucket of jerrycans water. While leaning and scrubbing and dumping water, I thought about that this is the reality of everyone around me. And here I am showing up with my cat and my exorbitant amount of luggage and my chocolate from the Amsterdam airport, asking for things that people around here just don't have. Maybe the fellowship was errant to think that the contract could be fulfilled in this town. Maybe I need to take a reality pill and suck it up.
Do I push for water? I already live with spotty electricity. But why am I special? Why should I live with anything nicer or better than my co-workers and classmates? That is intensely unfair and shows a huge character flaw of my own. I don't deserve any better, I am just used to better because I come from a developed society and I have never dealt with water shortage as a daily reality.
It's a war in my head. I want to take a shower so, so badly. I want to wash my hands in a sink.
But maybe I need to lay it down. I already live eons above the living standard in my area. Damn that contract and it's false hope. And shame on me for needing to overcome such deep rooted feelings of privilege.
Water. It's a war. And for 663 million people, it won't ever be won.
(source for all facts: www.unwater.com)
To donate to a clean water project, visit: http://www.charitywater.org. My university, INATEK in Kibungo, Rwanda, http://inatek.ac.rw, would also benefit from direct donations for a water storage facility.
walk slow. xoxo.