Water

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We have been in Mseleni for just over 2 weeks now. The adjustment to life here has had its challenges.

There’s a slower pace of life here, coupled with no nursery for Joen, which means full time care once again (and thus the institution of a rather nursery-like routine to keep us all sane). Just as the icing on the cake, there’s also no hot water.

Our boiler (or “geyser” as it’s called here) is broken. It has been since before we arrived. Permission to order a new boiler has been asked (but not yet given). When we will actually get one is a whole other matter.

We’ve coped pretty well – like I haven’t actually freaked out which I’m rather proud of! It’s pretty warm most of the time here, so it hasn’t been affecting heating or our ability to get warm. It does mean its much harder to wash ourselves and the dishes. We are having to rely on those around us if we want a hot shower, or boiling a kettle to strip wash the kids.

All I really know is that I’m starting to freak out a bit…

However, yesterday the water went off completely. It has been off for more than 36 hours now and none of us are sure when it’ll come back on. There has been a strike by the workers at the water board. Fair enough. They’ve also sabotaged the pumps, and are guarding them to prevent anyone fixing them. I’m less sympathetic to this. And a little angry.

All I really know is that now I’m starting to freak out a bit. Now we definitely can’t wash the dishes, strip wash, flush the toilet (!), wash the clothes, drink anything other than milk and tab (basically diet coke) or cook properly.

The water that runs to the flats on site has remained on thanks to a tank supply which we don’t have access to, so we managed to get a jug of water yesterday evening.

Chris and I thought carefully about what we wanted to use the water for; we decided on washing our hands and face. That small amount of clean water soothed me. I’ve never appreciated water so much in my life before. This is a rare occurrence for the hospital, however many in the community don’t have pumped running water in their homes. They’ll either own a tank, or have to walk to local taps – and even that isn’t reliable. I’ve seen many people washing their clothes in rivers and walking with cartons of water on their heads.

Back in Tonga, there were a few days when the community came together to protest about the water supply to their villages. They burnt tyres and closed a main road down, causing a lot of disruption in the hope something would change. Despite having taps, every day the water would turn off sometimes for hours sometimes for days with no warning. How can you live like that?

Our situation is relatively minor and I’m sure it’ll come back on soon, it just highlighted to me how much I take water for granted. Water – what a precious gift.

Thank you Father for access to clean water.

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