Sunday June 26, 2011
Hello again from Masindi! I can’t believe I’ve been here for only a few days. We’ve been so busy and have accomplished a lot! Our research is almost done. But before I tell you about that I just wanted to reflect for a moment. I am staying at a really quaint hotel called the New Court View Hotel. All the rooms are individual bantas. These are little huts that are made to look like the native homes in the area, except that they are square not cylindrical and are made with brick and cement mortar with a real roof, which is just covered with grass rather than red clay dirt and only grass for roofing. (see picture)
Anyway, it is evening and I just got out of a really hot shower. I mention the “hot” because heated water is something we take for granted in the US. This hotel uses solar panels to heat the water, which is a real benefit because they don’t have to rely on the “not so reliable” electrical grid in Masindi. As I think I told you before, the water for bathing in Tanzania had to be heated on a wood stove and that works just fine but it takes more effort and forethought than just turning on the faucet and letting it run until the water gets hot. And speaking of that, I have a new appreciation for the luxury of having clean, hot and cold water. The very first day we went to the villages, we were shown the open water source that the community uses as their one and only water source. As you can see from the picture, it is really horrible. I thought that I would find out that at least they knew to boil the water before using it, but as we conducted the interviews it became quite clear that no one does that. They did seem to know that this would have been a good idea so it puzzled me as to why they didn’t do this. It turns out that the limiting factor is the costliness of the firewood. Just think how much firewood you would need overtime if the ONLY way you cooked anything was over a wood fire. Most villagers are very, very poor and have to conserve the meager resources they have. Today we went and spoke with the health workers at a medical clinic near the villages where we conducted our interviews. Right across from the clinic is a bore-hole well that was put in my the district government which is great but it is the only protected water source available to a population of 1600 people and sometimes there isn’t enough water for all. Also, it breaks down from time to time and although it is usually fixed within a few days, the need for water doesn’t cease so people resort to unclean open water sources for those days and end up getting sick with diarrheal illness and worms. In Tanzania I learned how to effectively and efficiently bathe with minimal amounts of water and here, although I let the shower run briefly, I have started to collect the water in the bucket that is provided and wash with that while I have the shower turned off. I can then turn the shower on for a moment to quickly rinse off. Here I am partially motivated by the sites I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard, but also motivated because I am currently in an area with limited access to water and I feel that any effort I put forth will be truly helpful. Once I return home it will be harder because it will seem like my efforts are only a drop in a large bucket and won’t seem to matter. But just think: If we all do our best to conserve water we can make a big difference. I’m pretty sure there are parts of our country as well (USA) where water isn’t consistently available or where droughts can occur. Well, it is really late for me and I can hardly keep my eyes open. I am learning so much on this trip and have been enjoying every minute. I will fill you in on the trips to the villages at another time, in short, I am really pleased with the way everything is working out. Thanks for all your comments- I got a chance to review most briefly today and will try to respond to the questions soon.