Every night I go to sleep listening to the squeak of the Lifewater Pump working. Every morning I awake to the same sound as villagers from the surrounding communities come to draw water. It is a peaceful way to end the day and a motivating one to start each new one. These villagers have safe water – let’s go help those who are still waiting.
This morning there was no pump sound. Instead there was a symphony of nature. It started with the bass sounds of long, drawn-out thunder rolls. Then the gentle tapping of a few introductory soprano rain drops, quickly increasing in tempo until the crescendo of the skies opening on the tin roof. We had to shout inches from each other’s ears to be heard and so we stopped talking and listened to what Nature had to say this Sunday morning. Eventually the music calmed down and faded into a series of loud cricket calls. The concert ended with the squeak of the pump – a new day here in Africa.Each day brings new experiences and every day I learn more. Here in West Africa you go to the airline office several days before a scheduled flight just to confirm that you indeed want to use your ticket, make sure that their planes have not crashed, things like that (don’t worry Cara, James and coming team… you are booked with an excellent company whose planes rarely fall out of the sky). When the office manager learned I was a water guy, she asked me about the brown things that came out of her poly tanks. I immediately diagnosed the problem as strings of nuisance iron bacteria and told her it was not a problem. She was quite surprised to learn that nuisance bacteria slime could swim around so actively in a bowl of water! Upon learning more about the worms in her water, I recommended a thorough tank flush and shock chlorination. And I learned again the importance of always asking one more question before being confident that I fully understand the situation. As Les Babcock says when we work in Haiti, “There is always another mountain behind the one you are looking at”. There are no simple solutions, and there are always problems behind the problem that is staring you in the face.It really is amazing how many little details there are in every little thing that we do back home without ever thinking about it! Like flicking a switch and have lights come on. Or enjoying a shower and being relaxed enough to let one’s mind wander and not worry about swallowing some water. I tried that here by mistake and gained a new appreciation for the power of antibiotics.This leaves me ruminating about other memorable trip experiences. I think that the most surreal moment was finding out that Silas loves “The Sound of Music” and has it on his car sound system. We joined Julie Andrews in singing “The Hills Are Alive” as we bombed down a dusty African road in his truck.
We definitely now live in a small, interconnected world! And yet, we live so differently. As I end this last blog, I think on what I see every day. Women and girls hauling buckets of water on their heads walking in the heat – often with a warm, heavy baby tied to their back. I don’t know the peace or joy that a Muslim women here has in her heart, but I know I am not able to comprehend how they endure as they not only carry the water and babies, but they do so covered head to foot in black shawls. I need to think that this is by their choice, for how they must silently suffer. All I can do is give all I have to raising awareness and support to try and ease their lives a little by providing safe water close to their huts.
Enough talk. We have things stuck in a well (yes it is a problem, no I don't want to talk about it). So it is time to take my bottle of safe water and head back into the sun to sweat a little before catching my plane.Thanks for listening. Until next trip, farewell from Africa.With thanks.