It’s well into the thirties. So it’s hot! Not only is it hot but the children of Mbande know that their chances in life will be much improved with some sort of education, however ad hoc it is due to the school being partly washed away in the rains, and because they only have one teacher in this remote area trying to educate 250 kids aged 5-15. I’ve just arrived here as I’ve raised some funds back home to build a new school. Mbande though is a scattered village of 600-900 people and is some 6km long, so to get to school some of those kids have to walk up to four hours a day.
As I am thirsty just sitting on a rock, and wondering where on earth the kids are going to get a drink as none of them are carrying food, other than the odd mango which they’ve mainly picked up from the road, or water. Being inquisitive, and it being a normal question to ask for water, I’m shown to this puddle, about 250 meters from the school. Its about six foot across and as disgusting as it looks in the photo it looks even worse in real life! On the plus side it doesn’t smell much. On the down side I have very little sense of smell.
The only consolation as I stand aghast at the side of it is that no children were drinking from it at the time on the one hand, and that there’s nothing overly large and dead floating in it that I can see. I reflected on this experience during my time in the village, and even more so when I got back. Being able to support children’s education is extremely important and rewarding, but if they have to drink this some of them may be very lucky to get through their education alive.
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to come to realise the disease, parasites and whatever else will be in that water. Consequently, I have used this photo to raise awareness of health and water issues. As part of my fundraising I often re-enact it by taking a glass of water, filling it with a handful of soil, some leaves, twigs and a small plastic woodlouse and a spider. Funnily enough I have no takers when I ask if anybody would like to drink it. Would you?
As an aside, if you are wondering what the adults drink………
The green is slime.