Monday, September 17, 2007

Water

Friday, when we were picked up in Livingstone, we were warned, "Take a good hot bath and enjoy it. We're under severe water rationing."

It's been a constant theme while we're here. The Namwiamga Mission campus, which holds about a thousand people, gets clean water from wells, and other water from a little lake. This is the beginning of the school term, and also approaching the peak of the dry, hot season. The system failed, and all the pipes and tanks have gone dry.

It's interesting how people have coped. David Gergersen has been working day and night the whole time trying to find the problem and fix it. They've changed pumps at the well-head and walked the pipes, looking for a leak. As yet, the problem remains.

There are a couple of dozen American students here working, and after days of no water, seem to be adapting. Lake water can be treated and you can pour it over your head for limited cleaning. The air is dry, so you don't get terribly sweaty.

The Zambians take it all in stride. In bush villages, sometimes there's a well, but other times water has to be hauled in on an ox-cart from the nearest river. A place where there's running water on demand at the nearest faucet is nice, but it's lack is hardly the end of the world. But then, their concept of a crisis is much different from our reaction as Americans. A school with a thousand students and no running water isn't something to be excited about.

I'm managing okay. In fact, Mary Ann and I picked up about 60 liters of bottled water at the store before coming out here, so other than bathing out of a bucket and getting the laundry done in lake water, we're sitting pretty.

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