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November 14, 2012

The Universal Solvent

I knew it was going to happen sometime, so I guess now is as good a time as any. I have been waiting to write about my summer experiences in Kenya for a long time. I thought that maybe one day I would wake up and I would think, “today is that day.” But that hasn’t happened yet. As you may have read in Olivia’s blog about Worcester having a water main break, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring up a few things about my summer. I can’t seem to sum it up, except to say that it was life changing and I will never live or think the same again.

I’ll start off my explaining what I was doing there: Asset Based Community Development. Grassroots economic development. Empowering. And being empowered.

Basically, working with community members to create a business that will allow them to profit and enjoy employment.

After being in Chanagande, Kenya for two months I could probably write a story, so I’m going to save all those details for another blog post and tell you how this relates to the water situation.

When I was living in a rural village in Kenya there was no electricity or running water. Every morning my host mama would take multiple trips, walking miles to collect water for the day. The water is used to drink, to bathe, to cook, to clean…basically anything that you use water for. It’s used sparingly because there are not superfluous amounts, especially during the dry season, but you get used to it. Everyday, my mama would prepare about a gallon of water for me to bucket bathe with. You never think that you could use so little until you are actually doing it, and it works fine.


Anyway, this week in Worcester the water main broke and people have been complaining so much about not being able to shower (we can now), showering in cold water (that only lasted a little while), or not being able to use the water to brush your teeth or drink. I’m not going to lie, I like situations like this because I think they bring people closer together and sometimes people even realize how thankful they should be for having all they do, even with everything that we take for granted. In a few days when the water is back to normal and all the test results that shown that it’s clean again, people will go back to living their lives and crack jokes about “that time when we didn’t have water,” but I didn’t have running water for 60 days and many of the people I met will never see running water. I think about that on a daily basis and how it’s not right or wrong, it’s just a different way of life.

Me attempting to carry water, but I am not nearly as strong as the women who do it daily.


More about Kenya later…but until then, get in the spirit of Thanksgiving and start thinking about what you appreciate in everyday.


Water pan during the rainy season


Same water pan during the dry season


















*Disclaimer: I was living in one rural village in Kenya. Many urban areas do have running water, so I don’t want to convey an image that all of Africa or Kenya is this place without water. Africa is a big place. Kenya is a big place. Making that assumption would be like assuming that a statement made about one little town in all of North America defines all of North America. We all know that’s not true.



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