“Ways Sought to Ensure Great Ruaha Flows Year Round”
(One of Tanzania’s major rivers has dried up in places in post years, demanding a meeting of everyone from the WWF, to Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Water/Irrigation, and many more stakeholders gathering to discuss the problem).
“Trouble Looms for Dar’s Water Thieves”
(Apparently only 12% of water pumped into Dar es Salaam is actually reaching paying customers. Estimates are that 32% of water is being “stolen” and the remaining 56% is lost to leakage. And the police are going on a rampage.)
“Over 7000 Pastoralists Get Reliable Water in Simanjiro”
(7000 Maasi now have access to safe water thanks to an American charity group. “Speaking on behalf of fellow women, Naitajewoke Laiser thanks the American people for the assistance, saying women in the area would now save the time they previously spent on fetching water to engage in other income-generating activities).
These were the HEADLINES of the paper. So many water-related issues! As a side note, mother’s independent access to funds is the number one determinant of whether or not a child will live to see their 5th birthday in the developing world. The trickle down effect of having access to safe water is monumental.
From our perspective, Tanzania seems to have the least amount of access to clean water compared to everywhere else we’ve walked through. We’ve only seen 3 clean water boreholes in the past 3 weeks we’ve been here.
A sideline news item was also that another man had his house burnt down by fellow villagers who superstitiously believed that he was preventing the rain. Those arrested were 45 and older.
On the back page of international news was the news about the Pope resigning and Americans drinking too much.
“If it is becoming night, and you are near a village, stop and ask for the head chairman. It is part of our constitution that he should give you a place to stay, probably in his home”
It has been custom in most places we’ve been, but apparently in Tanzania, it is also law to assist travelers along the way. It’s interesting to see the way that trickles down into everyone else as well. Especially in Tanzania, everyone likes to invite us to their home.
And sometimes they give us things. We were walking over a bridge and children were coming the other direction. They reached over and handed us alphabet cookies. I got a Z and a D. Aaron got 2 H’s.
Our friend Augustine is the one who told us about constitutional hospitality. He had us stay in his home, which is only two rooms. He gave us the bed, and he and his brother slept on the floor. Very humbling.
He had just moved to the area in the past year to become a farmer, after having graduated college and divorcing his wife.
As he hands 3 local kids buckets and 200 shilling pieces (worth about 8cents each) he talks about how he is worried about the future of his country and for the kids, most of whom in his village cannot afford to go to school.
The children return from the river with muddy buckets of water and the conversation changes to local water supply which is currently just the stream down the hill. People either drink the water as is, boil it, or buy bottled water. It is not easy.
Before we left the next day, we enjoyed tea with him and listened to a local radio program, mentioning among other things that a lady from New Zealand died from drinking too much Coke. Weird how worlds collide.
Without the Land Rover, getting clean water is one of our most important tasks. But sometimes it is difficult. Here’s a week’s worth of experiences:
Day One and Day Two
- Not bad, there were pumps every 15km or so (10 miles) , we filled our two camelbaks and 2 water bottles.
- Out. Of. Water.
Walked about 5 miles, found a bush mechanic who gave us a glass of water each.
Walked another mile. Bought a 1.5lt bottle from a small store. (BTW first COLD water we had in many, many months).
Walked remaining 5 miles to town, found a pump, with enough water to get us through to thenext morning.
- Walked to small village. Inquired about water. Was pointed in a general direction, walked about 20 minutes before finding the pump. Walked back. Goal was to make next river by nightfall. Sucessful.
- Goal was to make the next two rivers, Rio Bunga and Rio Repembe.
Rio Bunga - no water.
Found small unmarked village and a pump! Filled up main water containers.
Rio Repembe- no water.
Decision point: Go forward with a chance or go back 5 miles and get more. We decided to go foward the next day and ration water.
Next River is River Gorgongosa, approx 20 miles away.
5:30am - I woke up already feeling like I had a hangover. Then I remembered, nope, just in the middle of Africa with only a bit of water.
And nothing, nothing, nothing we find.
8:30am - Found people, asked them for water. But was offered a sip of “trational beer” - made with too much yeast, in a diesel jug with leaves as a stopper, poured into a Coke can with the top cut off. Live ants floating on the top. You don’t refuse gifts in Africa, but it wasn’t what we really needed. Bottoms up?
10am - Two Land Riover pulled over. More like, sped past, screeched to a halt, flipped a U-turn and sped back. Yay! They had water! And also gave us apples, oranges,beef jerky, sweetened condensed milk. It was like Christmas! Glad they came becuase it would have been a rough stretch. In late afternoon we finally found a well. River Gorgongosa was also dry.
Now we know there is a town 8-10 miles away, so feeling okay and have water. Man pulls over in the early morning with a bottle of ice water. 2 times in one week that we got cold water! Couldn’t believe our luck! Made it to the next village fine, and now writing from a major town.
But yea, so water is a big deal.
We knew there was a river and a town not too far ahead, and decided to go forward to wash a few clothes and rest in the town. It was still early when we got to the river; we were told on the way to stay on a certain side because on the other was where the crocodiles like to hang out. (Maybe? Maybe not? But we’ll follow the rules I suppose). We follwed advice and walked down to the river where there were a few men doing their laundry and gathering water. It struck me as add to see men doing this and not see any women around at all, but I wrote it off quickly, and Aaron and I hopped across some rocks that put us more int hemiddle of the river where the current was moving faster. As we washed our clothes and took a dip to clean ourselves off as well, more men came and went, some of them apparantly there to bathe. They were not put off at all that I was there and continued about their business as normal, but so apparantly there was a separate men’s and woman’s side to the river! By the time we started to figure it all out, it was too late to do anything about it, so we just did what we had to do and tried to leave semi-gracefully. We stayed in town for the day, and being as the river is the only water source, we had to go back to fetch water before leaving town. This time, we went, knwoginly, to the woman’s side, where also most of the children congregate with their mothers and grandmother’s. You could hear their laughter and splashing grow with every step. It sounded like a pool party. Aaron decided to hang back a bit to not scar himself for life with the naked old ladies, while I got water and brought it back to him to pump. I must admit though, the smell of the woman’s side of the river, made me grateful to have done my laundry on the men’s side, and also very glad that we were purifying the water to drink. Feces is usucally not a fun smell combination with your drinking water.
And that’s why clean water is needed. Because NO ONE should be drinking that.
By the time we left, we had drawn such a crowd of children that we basically led a whole procession back through town. The kids know little English but get a kick out of practicing with us. When they say “good afternoon” and you respond likewise, they laugh hysterically. One kid, Jordin, a 10 year old who had sold me a beer earlier (weird experience) kept running up to the front to “make sure we were good”.
At least we probably gave everyone somthing to talk about for a few days.
Tarwirei Chitate is an ambulance
Driver near Machaze, Mozambique. We first saw him when he was trying to transport a local woman to the nearest hospital with a surgeon - several hours away down the most horrible roads I’ve seen yet. She was having complications giving birth. Unfortunately, neither she nor the baby made it, and Tarwirei had to turn around and bring her home before they even made it to the hospital. Although he is originally from Zimbabwe, he came to Mozambique when Zim was in the midst of political upheaval, learned Portuguese so he could live and work here.
Although he drives at fast speeds down bad roads he asks the ‘gods’ to protect him and his patients. But it is a hard job, pays little, and is dangerous. In his village, we saw a very long line for water - apparently women travel up to 30km in one direction for water. Many of them wall or ride bicycles with jerrycans attached - well, at least they ride to the pump, but then they have to push them back home.
Can you imagine it? You ride 10 miles on your bike to get 10 gallons of water, which you then strap to your bike and WALK the 10 miles back. And you will do that EVERY. DAY.
Also, because of the lack of water and other resources, food is scarce. From that village, sometimes people have to travel up to 300km for corn. That’s the reality for Tarwirei and so many others.
Help us make clean water a NEW reality for people like Tarwirei. Just $20 gives someone clean water for 20 years. Donate today and find more info about the water crisis at www.walking4water.org.
As we were walking (isn’t that how most of our stories start) a car pulled over and a younger middle-aged guy with long dreads and a shirt that read “I have issues” hops out the back to come greet us. He tells us his name is Lima (like the capital of Peru) and that he is a teacher in the next town, and that we should stop to see him when we get there. We exchange phone numbers and the next afternoon we arrived in Manica. He brought us to an old garage on his brothers house that they had turned into a music school! We arrived at the perfect time because the kids were just getting out of regular school and coming to this music school. It looked like exactly what you would imagine if some kids in your neighborhood decided to start a band and took over your one car garage. Drum set, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboard, jembes, the works. The instruments were passed around the room and if you weren’t playing you would end up clapping or dancing or singing. We sang, played and clapped along to songs about not stigmatizing people because of AIDS but helping them; and about travelling brothers and sisters who come to visit Africa. It was a ton of fun. The school has gotten some grans and has worked closely with the Peace Corps volunteers; they will be building a stand alone school in the coming months.
After music school, we went back to Lima’s house and met his wife and 2 boys (who are 12 and 10) and enjoyed time with them, and they allowed us to camp on their land. There was a Massai warrior who walked 38 different countries in Africa and he had also stayed with Lima and his family when he travelled through, so it was neat to be in his footsteps in a way, and hear about his journey as well. We played music late into the evening with Lima and the next day he walked us down to the river to see it and the surrounding sugarcane fields. It was great to be able to stay with Lima and see the great things happening in Manica.
We are super honored to announce that two incredible people have given up their birthdays this month for clean water! Jaime Markham of East Hartford, CT and Rebecca Conner of Carbondale, IL have given up their birthdays this month so that others might have CLEAN WATER! So far they have both raised more than $350 a piece.
Only $20 gives someone clean water for 20 years, so through their birthdays, 35 more people will have access to clean, safe, drinking water.
Way to go guys! Thanks for giving up your birthday so that others might live.
If you’d like to give up your birthday, or any holiday for clean water, ask us how and we will get you started!
We got 18 amazing cards today from First Covenant Church in Omaha, NE. They rock! Check this one out from Eli.
People travel for all sorts of different reasons.
Some people are running away from their current reality.
Some people are running towards their dreams.
Some people are just looking for a place to belong.
Some people travel for special occasions, the happy, like weddings, and sad, like funerals.
Some people travel for work; business suits, expensive dinners, fancy wines.
Some people travel to “find themselves”.
Have you ever watched the people in the airport, bus station or in their cars? It is fun to wonder what people’s stories are. Who they are; where they came from; where they’re going.
In preparation to travel to Africa and start our 7000 mile walk; I have read and watched many stories of people who have done long term treks, domestically and abroad. For me, the most interesting piece of all of their stories; is their motivation(s).
For some, the pure unknown is what drives them. For others, it is the challenge, to do something ‘out of the ordinary’. A few have been looking to prove a point, that ‘people are good’, or that ‘YES it can be done’. Some feel driven by their faith, and feel a specific calling on their lives to complete the task. Others seem to be on a quest, searching for something, they’re not sure what they’re looking for, but I would venture to say that it probably falls within the spaces of ‘community’, ‘belonging’, ‘completeness’, or ‘peace’.
Since we have a few people involved in our walk, I think we gather a bit of all of these motivations. For me, this all started as a mission driven by my faith. But that’s not the whole story, for everyone on the team. There’s part me, of us, that want to prove that impossible doesn’t exist. There is part of us that is quite excited for the adventure of a lifetime. Although I’m not sure we’re “looking for something”, we know that this experience will be completely transformative within our own lives. And we do want to tell the story of the people we see, especially the story of clean water; and ITS transformative power in the world.
Our main objective is to make a difference for the cause of clean water; to raise funds for charity: water, so that others might have access to the most BASIC resource of life.
But I would be lying if I didn’t admit all of those motivations were at play in this journey for us.
One of the best pieces of advice I got when starting to plan this whole thing was, “You better be 100% sure that you are committed to this walk, and know WHY. Because on the 16th mile when your legs are aching, when you are emotionally drained, and what to curl up into a ball in cry, but you still need to walk another 5 miles, you better have a reason to continue to put one foot in front of the other”.
So, as people have considered over time whether or not they should walk with our team, that was always my question to them. Are you REALLY sure? Are you REALLY committed to seeing this through? WHY are you doing this?
I knew if they couldn’t answer that question of WHY, I didn’t want them on the team.
I knew if I couldn’t answer that question myself, I shouldn’t go.
But I AM convinced that we have STRONG motivations, STRONG convictions to continue on. There is a great reason WHY.
Even when we are tired. Achy. Sweaty. Mosquito bitten. Drained. Hungry. Thirsty. Weak.
WHY? Because this is bigger than us. I know that this walk has the potential to be effective beyond our wildest dreams, to inspire others, to make a difference for the cause of clean water.
The potential of that reality is worth it EVERY TIME to me.
And when I doubt the potential of the dream, I still have other motivations to drive me. My faith, the adventure, the others we walk in honor of, so that hopefully they don’t have to walk every day, and be tired, sweaty, achy, sick, for water.
These past few weeks have literally felt as if we are running towards a starting line. It’s the mad dash to the beginning of the unknown.
And it’s all worth it.
As we challenge ourselves to keep going, I challenge you. WHY do you do what you do? What drives you? What motivates you? Do you know? Know WHY you do what you do. It gives it meaning.
Here we go.
Investing as little as 0.16 percent of the world’s gross domestic product – could give half a billion people regular access to safe drinking water within four years.Drinking Water Access Urged in Report