Monday, October 11, 2010
water water water
The rainy season started. And then it stopped. The grass went from brown, to green to brown again. We were unprepared. So was the city. All our back up rain containment systems ran empty in one day. We started living out of jerry cans. This is what is practically looked like. You have a jerry can in your bathroom. You pour water from it, down the toilet bowl to flush it. You use it in the sink to wash your hands. You use another jerry can for the dishes, for cleaning the food, for cleaning the floors. You use too many jerry cans for washing the cloth diapers that 5 kids produce every day. You don't wash your clothes until you are absolutely out of everything and then you prioritize. You spend 30 minutes sniffing the clothes of six kids. Pee/poop smells-yes wash, dusty dirty-depends on whose it is (twins-wash, big girls-wait). You heat up a pan of water for bath time. You pour that in a bucket with some water. You wash six kids with as little of the water as you can. You decide who is the dirtiest and who you can get away with using some wipes on. You dream about trying to cross the border to take a shower in Rwanda. You wonder how a city that lives on a lake cannot have a plan to treat the water to make is safe for the population when there is drought. You listen to your housekeeper tell you about how her kids wander the city at night looking for water. And you feel so guilty knowing how much water you "need" compared to how much she uses for her family of 10. It is raining now, finally. I can open a tap and water is coming out. This will probably be the last time I live in a dry season here. I wonder if I will forget what it is like to wonder if we will be able to find water again today. Or to have to consider if we should use untreated lake water and look up cholera (and be terrified of the idea). I wonder what I will remember and what I will too quickly forget about living here.