40 litres on your head

The last few weeks have been tough, and tiring, and frustrating…hence radio silence on the blog for a while. After a rough day in the field the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and re-live the day by writing about it. It would probably have been slightly therapeutic but still not enough to motivate me to do it.

In all honesty more often than not (don’t read this part mum!) I hit the bottle! Ok so not seriously but sometimes a strong G+T is the only thing which hits the spot. Anyhow, its medicinal..well the tonic part is…and the gin just makes it taste nicer!

So having set up one new programme I thought setting up the second would be child’s play. A few things I failed to factor in however – the first time round I had a good support team…an accountant, an ops officer, a storeman, a logistician…this time round the accountant was…well…me! Oh yes and the ops officer, the storeman and logisitician all rolled into one.

This programme is meant to be just an extension of my existing programme but that’s easier said than done when the 2 programmes are 7 hours drive away (NOT on a good road!).

In the words of a journalist who recently interviewed me, I was running the programme out of “a rudimentary shelter serving as an office” (The devil is in the detail) so after a few weeks of hardship I was ready to start sleeping in a bed again surrounded by 4 brick walls.

On one of my last days in the field I had a wee chat with a couple of young children. Next to our camp was the local well, the water supply for hundreds of families, and each morning I watch the local women lining up to fill their jerry cans before starting their long walk back home to begin their chores.

To be honest the whole thing was quite amusing as this water hole was quite the local mothers meeting…all sorts of gossip was passed down the line as the women patiently waited their turn.

This morning 2 children turned up so I went over to speak to them. Although shy at first the older, slightly bolder of the two girls eventually gave me a small smile, told me her name was Maria and she was 10 years old. She had been sent with her little sister to collect water for the family.

Walking 2 kms to the well she fills up a 40 litre jerry can, hoists it on to her head and walks the 2 kms home (her little sister is ‘in training’ so only has to carry 20 litres!).

As I helped her hoist her dripping bright yellow container onto her head I asked her if she goes to school, she said sometimes. I asked her how often she has to collect water and she said every day. She is 10 years old!

Maybe my few weeks living in a tent and working from my ‘rudimentary office’ is not so tough after all!

 

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