Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 14: Mulongo

Reporting now from Mulongo. We are well-situated here and tres content (very happy). I suspect that it will take me a long time to process this trip once I return to the US, because I feel so inundated here with sensations and information that it is difficult for me to do more than observe and report while here. I suppose this is why Bob is endevouring to write a book now, because I have seen enough in two days in Mulongo to write an entire book, and it is not possible for the mind to comprehend it all as you are seeing it. So I apologize for the scarcity of "sifting" of the information here-- at times I am capable of much better synthesis, but for now it's all I can do just to write what I see with little processing. Nonetheless, I will try to provide you with a somewhat coherent “view” of my life here. 

I have been seeing a little bit  (but only a little) of what it is like to be a woman here, which was part of the purpose of this journey—as DS Mulongo put it—it is a “women’s expedition”. So, I get to see a little of the work that is required to run a household here. It is difficult to say in a way that makes sense because I did not understand it myself until I came here, and I suspect that as an American woman I can never fully understand. However, the big thing, as many people have told me, is water. It is a big problem here, especially for the women. It is a woman’s job here to do the cooking and washing and provide the water for the family for the most part, which often requires spending hours each day acquiring it. If a women is lucky, she spends only an hour getting two jugs full of water, but it could take 3 or 4 hours if she has to walk far. On top of that, the water is not “clean”, and so despite all the hard work, many people get sick because of water-bourne diseases. Today I saw two of the three places in town to get water, which are essentially two broken pipes sticking out the ground, which are broken because during the war the rebel groups and soldiers came through the town and would steal the pipes. So, it is definitely a problem to say the least.

I am thinking about how this stands in stark contrast to the US, where most people use thirty times the required amount of water for survival per day. For me, being here, what strikes me most is not the fact that we use so much of it (which we do) but that it’s “clean” water. I mean really, there’s no reason to use drinking water to water your lawn or take a shower, but we do. I don’t think it would really matter as much (just my opinion, here) if we used that much water if it was procured sustainably and it wasn’t all drinking water. The fact that we use clean water in such excess for non drinking purposes is just wasteful, but I’ve said that before. This is not a “new” realization for me, but you feel it more acutely when you are here and you have to face daily the suffering that your actions cause… I realize this might seem like a stretch as I  personally did not do anything to make these women have to work so hard, but I have always believed that as a society, we all contribute to the problem, even if only through our lack of awareness. And so I feel part of that burden, as an American who has drank plenty of bottled water in her lifetime. I don’t know what the “answer” is. But I can definitely now put a “face” on the water crisis, and understand the apocryphal predictions that the wars of the future will be fought over water.

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