Vanda Kujbus

Friday, March 24, 2017

Donkerbos - Water filling

Written by Vanda

It is community meeting today, which we are really looking forward to, as it will be a good opportunity to meet people and bug them with a lot of questions.

However, first we bring some water to the villagers. Belinda comes with a 1000L tank full of borehole water and helps to distribute it to those who need a lot but would be too difficult to walk long long km-s to get it. It is so thoughtful of her! It’s also good for us as people can meet us and by the time the meeting starts, we have already been (at least) exposed to each other, so we won’t be complete pale devils.

We drive to a different direction, and this time the village seems so much livelier, there are dwellings after dwellings. If only we have started here yesterday!

Since it’s only 9 am, the sun is not so burning. However, no matter where we go to, people only sit in front of their houses or under the tree. We have just learnt from yesterday that the local „work hours” are fron sunrise to 11 and afterwards from 4-5 to sunset. We must have arrived at the „lunch break”, there can be no other explanation. For the first time in here I become thirsty.

Of course we didn’t bring any water since the whole thing should not last longer than an hour. And we have just started! Jeez! My mouth is already as dry as the sand under my feet. Sigi on the other hand, knowing no thirst, made himself useful!

Sigi fills water
Sigi fills water 2

Next we see some families with small gardens, and we try to talk to some of the owners. One young girl speaks good English and she can explain what crops is she trying to grow. For me the garden seems big-ish, but she says it’s barely enough for them to survive and they need more government support. I would ask some more questions, but in the meantime the buckets are filled up, so it’s time to move to the next family.

Interview at a garden
Donkerbos garden
filling water into a lot of buckets

People keep bringing a few 10L buckets, and the bigger the family, the more buckets they bring. On average we fill 5-6 buckets, and in the meantime I wonder how much could they „waste” of the precious water on such unnecessary things like washing their hands after the toilet, let alone on a simple „shower” or cleaning food. I decide that it's better if I don't know it.

While filling, completely randomly, a guy pops up with some weird oversized spiney caterpillars in a plastic bag. Belinda tells us that they are called mopane worms and are considered as a delicacy among many tribes. Delicacy?? They don’t even look apetizing let alone a delicacy!

mopane worm

She says they just „grow” around and are also a good source of protein and they are very nutritious. I also have some blurry memories about the mopane worms in a few research papers, and start to think about them as an option B research topic. She also explains that the worms have to be degutted, boiled, then dried before they are ready to consumption. Basically they become something like our beloved beef jerkies, so they must not be that bad. But time to move again. God, I’m so thirsty, wateeeeeer!

mopane worm degutting
mopane worms in a bowl with Belinda

We arrive to the final destination. It is a big homestead, where an old lady lives, who produced the most beads. Tiny dwellings stand next to each other and we learn that younger generations of the family, and their new families live there. It is lovely to see that they stay close to each other.  

I have a feeling that the lady and the family is better off than the previous ones, as her clothes look very classy. She also has a garden, where she grows crops like the previous girl.

Ella, San lady and me in front of her house

She even allows us see her house from the inside. We feel honoured and shamed a little bit as we are just about to intrude to someone’s misery, but eventually we step in. The place has no floor and the space hardly lets more „furniture” than an old commode and a few blankets on the floor as „beds”. I don’t even want to imagine how can they sleep in case it rains. Everything else is hanging from the walls starting from clothes through light sources to school bags. I feel very miserable to see that this is life for someone and see, this is where you can get if you produce a lot of beads and get some pension. Very „high perspectives”.  

San beds
San house inside

Finally the water tank is empty, we can drive back home. Yesss, waaaateeer!

I really can feel that I didn’t have a proper shower since 3 days, but I think I’m still in a better position than many of the people here. By the time we arrive, some people have already come for the communiy meeting, and while we are waiting for the rest I have just a short time to drink up half of the water bottle and get my notes ready to the meeting. Ella promised that she will translate, so let’s get started!