Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Water is Life

We have a new appreciation for water.  Even in the remote places of Congo and Tanzania where we have lived, we always had enough water. But in Naigobya, where we depend on rain and a 20 year old pump a quarter mile away, taking a shower or flushing a toilet are most certainly not taken for granted.  

We have two ways of getting water at our house.  The first is by collecting rain water.  We have a large tank which collects the water, but even a hard 30 minute rain will only fill the tank six or eight inches.  Unfortunately, there hasn't been much rain lately, so, with the tank on empty, we resorted to plan B, our second (and definitely not preferred!) option for getting water. 

Plan B involves a whole lot of work! First we fill 20 liter (about five gallons) plastic containers with water at the well (see below), carrying them back to the house in our van.  On this particular day, we filled 18 containers (360 liters). Since we have only six containers, we had to make three trips to the well.

Step 1: Filling plastic containers at the well.  The school kids are always happy to help!

Then, we use a rope and a lot of muscle to lift the containers up to the platform where the water tank sits.

Step 2: It takes two of us to lift and pull in order to get the containers to the top.
Finally, we pour the water into the large tank...

Step 3: It takes fifty 20 liter containers to fill this 1000 liter tank.
360 liters in one day was enough for this old man!

All that effort didn't even fill the tank halfway, which doesn't go very far if you are taking showers (there are eight people staying/working in our house!) and flushing toilets.  But the truth is, we still have it easy.  None of our neighbors have any indoor plumbing, and they haul their water on the back of a bicycle from the well.  I suppose I could make a long list of things that I take for granted, but water is no longer on the list.  Have you examined your list lately?  I suspect that almost every American takes water for granted, just as I once did.  Next time you have a chance, see what you can do to help make water more accessible to the poor in third world countries.  They will be very grateful for your help.  But best of all, you will be acting as the hands and feet of Jesus, the Living Water that we must bring to those so desperately in need!


  1. It's not until you leave the US that you can really understand what we take for granted there. Even in AU, little things like a clothes dryer in rainy season or the simple joy of having a double kitchen sink now cross our minds. And then there's ordering printed material and finding it has to come from the States and will take a few weeks to arrive. Minor inconveniences but all a reminder of being grateful in all things!

  2. P.S. - We've had to have our water tanks refilled in dry season as well, but not with our own manual labour, but 'pocketbook' labour. 'Ouch' for both ways!