November 18, 2011

water. woman. carrying a precious load

this morning i heard a lot of commotion outside so i looked out of my bedroom window and saw women filling up water from the other side of the wall.  jugs were sitting on top of the wall for my neighbor while other women found another location to fill up their jugs.  a pipe had busted.  free water for the neighborhood.  i saw Magdelene, my 10 year old friend, in her school uniform carrying an empty jug and spoke to her for a moment, as she was consumed with her task at hand.
example of Ghanaian girls working during school days

families are struggling to provide enough water for their families.  i constantly see kids and adults walking from unknown distances and locations to bring water back to their homes.  people have figured out very well how to store the water in jugs, using basins for water that doesn't need to be kept clean.  it is quite impressive to me to see people managing to carry heavy containers of water with their arms, on their hips and on their heads.

as i watched many women doing this while walking along the dirt road, all i could think about was the preciousness of water.  every drop that spilled out of their open basins was not able to be used for washing or cooking.  even though i think i appreciate having running water entering our home through a system of pipes, i know i don't appreciate it enough.  i am conservative and utilize techniques to reuse, redistribute or save, but i only begin to enter that sphere of true appreciation when there is an emergency and we have no water pouring out of our faucets or flushing through our toilets.  it is at that moment that i can no longer rinse my hands, a task i do probably hundreds of times a day.  we manage to have back-up jugs of water for rinsing but we must stop doing all of the daily activities which use much water: cooking, washing dishes and clothes, taking a shower and flushing the toilets..

while looking out of the window daydreaming, praying & longing to help but wondering if it would take away their dignity, i noticed a laughing dove with a twig in its beak.  it was perched on top of the barbed wire.  i watched it hop to the next arch of the wire and was curious where it was going to take this twig.  a few minutes later it hopped down to the top of the wall which separates us from our neighbors and hopped toward a bunch of small branches and leaves that were resting along the wall.  to my joyful surprise i saw another morning dove sitting on top of the beginning of a nest!  she was there to receive what he brought her every few minutes for the 10 minutes i watched them.  she maneuvered the twigs with her beak and somehow managed to twist them in a manner that would enable them to be secure for them.  it was beautiful and amazing to watch.  i was mesmerized.  it made me think of how typical it is for the husband to work outside of the home and bring back sustenance for the family, while the wife is typically home waiting to receive the sustenance and make good use of it for the family.

like two wings of a bird, men and women must support each other in their family life and in the workload in order for the family to be able to soar.  humanity is far from recognizing and appreciating the hard work women contribute to family life, but to me, it is precious.

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