It sounded like a bomb exploding when rain fired down on the tin roof of my classroom this afternoon. At first the noise and the wet and the cold made me shiver and frown, until over the thundering murmur of water on metal I heard a student utter one word to me: fetch. I immediately knew what he was saying. I tried to scream the good news but the roar of wind drowned my voice, so I turned to the chalkboard and scribbled out excitedly, “WE DON’T HAVE TO FETCH WATER!” – and all at once my students and I lifted our arms and jumped out of our seats and cheered and danced a grateful dance for rain.
Why? Because now that dry season is upon us and we have more than twice as many boarding students as last year, everyone has to fetch water every day to bathe in. Friday everywhere in Eastern Province the electricity and water was shut off, so even those who normally have running water had to fetch from the spring. Which is why Saturday morning when I went to go do laundry, I found a surprise that really made the reality of life here sink in: there was a line of 37 jerry cans all waiting for water from one little tap from a spring. And you know what? It was a problem that you can’t just throw money at and have it go away. It’s the infrastructure of the country and the reality that even paying to have running water doesn’t guarantee there’s enough for you that day. The poor, the rich, the local, the foreigner- no one is exempt from waiting in the line. Hope you don’t have any emergency, because it’s gonna be a while.
By Sunday the desperation caused fighting near the spring and the violence made it too dangerous to take the children there to fetch. The matrons took them for the hour walk to a lake, whose water is not pure. The following day two children came to me with rashes and blamed the lake water. Luckily by Monday the rest of the province had gotten water back on, and the spring was safe to fetch from again.
So today felt surreal dancing around excited for rain. Now we have at least 3 days without needing to fetch, and without worrying about any rashes. Don’t worry, I still made my declaration on the blackboard relate to our lesson about dependent and independent clauses 🙂