Thoughts on Conservation

Getting water from the spring

Getting water from the spring

Water is precious here. Throughout the long months of the dry season, city water runs infrequently for those who are wealthy enough to have plumbing. Those who do not have plumbing rely on wells for their water. A water bucket is an essential piece of equipment, and we can often see women carrying water on their heads from the well.

Here at the guesthouse, we all have private bathrooms attached to our rooms. These, however, are not “bathrooms” in the typical North American sense. The typical fixtures are all there; a toilet, a small (lopsided) sink and a showerhead are all present in the small tiled room. The biggest difference (aside from the small animals we occasionally notice) is the lack of water. When I open the tap on the sink, nothing comes out. If I am lucky, there might be a small trickle of water. Our toilet does not flush, and there has never been water in the showerhead. This becomes “normal” sooner than you might think. Kristen (my sister and roommate) and I have become very good at the “bucket bath”. One of us goes, barefoot and pyjama’d, out to the courtyard in the morning to fill a bucket with warm water. The procedure is then as follows: wet hair, shampoo briefly, rinse with 3 – 4 cupfuls of water, wet body, use washcloth to wash, rinse with 3 – 4 cupfuls of water. We have perfected the procedure to the point where 2 of us can be very clean and use only ¾ of a bucket of water. We flush our toilet “manually” with water from our bucket. All laundry and dishes must be done by hand, and we are fortunate to have staff at the guesthouse who do these chores.

At home in Canada, I am used to walking into my bathroom at any time of day, turning on the lights and having an almost instantaneous supply of both hot and cold water. I start my dishwasher and washing machine without a second thought. My time here has made me think about exactly how much water I use everyday. As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of the Earth, and this includes the use of resources. I know that my water use practices will change once I return home. This might just include the use of a “bucket bath”!

Laura Puopolo

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