Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Other 90%

Last week I wrote a post about seeing kids getting water from a well in northern Nicaragua before they went to school in the morning. It felt distantly familiar and completely foreign at the same time and this is why.


This article from the New York Times is how, probably like you, I’m used to seeing the faces of the majority of people in the world, not after breakfast on a roadtrip. And someday, when I return to the US, it will be one of my windows into their world again.

But for now I get to be here, face to face and water bottle to cup with them. See them push and pull their water home, and hear their casual stories. One evening while running with Maricela (without our bodyguards) she told me her simple story about water.

When Maricela was a little girl, she wanted to be helpful to her family. So one day, when she was about 6, her mom brought home a little water bucket. And Maricela ran to the creek to go get water. The bucket was small, but due to Maricela’s many enthusiastic trips to the creek (it was something new!), she still brought plenty of water.

As she grew older her mother bought bigger and bigger buckets for her to carry on her head. And while the newness wore off, it was now a social event, all of her friends went to the creek for water for their families too.

Maricela tells this story much better than I ever could. But it’s captivating to me because I’ve only ever known water gatherers from afar. I’ve seen women walking down the road with buckets on their heads, children staggering away from a stream with a heavy bucket carried between them, but Maricela is different to me. Aside from being a personal friend, she’s a young, strong, intelligent, modern Honduran woman, but still something as basic as gathering water was a large part of her life.

In the US, it’s easy to feel removed from such subsistence. Even the poor get their water through city piping (we can talk about rural and reservation poverty later). But getting water (especially clean water) is an everyday real challenge for billions of your neighbors.

1 comment:

kneek said...

Thanks for bringing this all into perspective. It is easy to forget what we have learned and just remember what we "know". Meeting a real live person brings it all back again. I appreciate your daily reality checks.

BTW, love your new header!