Bekah, my wife Mardi, and I are going to be tag teaming this blog. Since I have been here before I guess I will go first. I was here in Zambia two years ago with Blood Water, and it was great to see some old friends today. That is the thing about Africa, you never meet a stranger. The people are so kind and filled with joy amidst some really tough circumstances. My Zambian friend, Sam, got to visit the U.S. for a training seminar and he said he “didn’t know what to do in a place like the U.S. where everything worked.” The only thing that always works in Zambia are the people, and they work hard.
I’m incredibly lazy. I never really thought that I was before, but after today, I’ll freely admit it. Today, we watched a 12-year-old girl use a rope to lift 40 pounds of water from the bottom of a 30 foot well. She did it time after time and after watching her for a few minutes, I decided to give it a try.
How hard can it be? I thought, “I haven’t worked out in a while, but surely I can do a few rounds of this before feeling it.” Never have I been more wrong. The second I lifted that water from the bottom of the well, I felt my arms start to shake. It was hard work, and I have to be honest with you: I didn’t even get the water halfway up the well before I gave up and lowered the bucket again.
I imagine their arms often shake like mine did–especially after a few dozen times of lifting the bucket. The difference, however, is that they don’t have a choice. That’s their only option for survival.
Fifty cents. At home, that buys me a can of Dr. Pepper. Here in Ndola, Zambia, that buys a family their water for the day. Sounds like a great deal, right? Not when you consider that they will spend 17% of their monthly income just on water for their family. Now mine consists of just 3 of us. Most families here consist of about 5-8 people. When I say their water for the day, I’m talking about 2 jerry cans, which are 5 gallons each. That’s 10 gallons of water to use. To cook with, wash dishes, do laundry, bath a family. I’m pretty sure that would not cut it in my house. In fact, the average American uses 100 gallons of water per day! That is one person using 10x the amount an entire family uses here in Ndola! And the crazier thing….
…it’s not even clean water that they work so hard to get.
I was amazed at how much each of these jerry cans weighed and how much effort it took to get the water home. I, being the big, strong, strapping, man I am, offered to help this young girl load her jerry cans into her wheel barrel. Sadly, I got a little winded loading all the cans. I told her I would love to help wheel the water to her house. Notice you cannot see a house anywhere in the distance. It was a surprisingly stressful walk on the bumpy dirt path as I didn’t want to spill a drop of this precious liquid, especially after seeing just how much went into gathering it.
For me, the importance of this little trip within a trip was when we dropped the water off and a very kind man said, “look around, you see how bad it is here. We need water. We need water!” Those words will forever echo in my brain. He desperately needed what we simply have.
Improving this part of life for these people will be the “drill it” part of our Drill It and Fill It campaign. Together with Blood Water we are going to do something amazing in just 4 days that will change generations.