Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A miracle

Wonder of wonders. Miracle of miracles. We have running water!

By “running water,” I mean that a trickle of water drips out of my shower. So instead of carrying the buckets downstairs, fetching the water, and hauling them back upstairs, I can conveniently fill them in my bathroom. Since Hanna normally fills them for me, I can’t fully appreciate the convenience. I’m glad that she has a little less work to do this week, however.

I do fully appreciate not having to fill the tank with water by hand every time I want to flush the toilet. It makes going to the bathroom much quicker. Unfortunately, this too shall pass.

Apparently, the reason why we normally don’t have running water is that, by the time the water gets to our house, usually the neighbors before us have used it all. For some reason, there’s enough water this week that it made it all the way to our house. It probably won’t last more than a few days. Usually, someone has to fetch water from a big tank outside and bring the water, bucket by bucket, into the house.

It’s weird living in a house without running water. Simple tasks, such as doing the dishes, throw me off. How do you do the dishes without running water? Allow me to explain. There are two buckets in the kitchen sink. Whoever washes the dishes fills the first with cold water, and the second with hot water (from the stove). Here’s what you do:

1. Place the dirty dish in the bucket of cold water. Take a rag and a bar of soap, and scrub the dish clean in the soapy water. If there is still food or grossness sticking to the dish, wipe it off into a pot before placing it in the soapy water.

2. Then, you place the soapy dish into the bucket with hot water. Rinse the dish with the hot water, then place it in the dish rack. (This is the hardest part for me, because I’ve always had a hard time putting my hand in hot water.)

Voilá! A clean dish!

They also make fun of me when I try to wash my clothes. Doing laundry is so easy at home! All you do is throw your clothes into a washing machine, take them out, and put them in a dryer. Even washing clothes by hand is somehow easier at home. You just hand-wash in a sink or bathtub, where there is easy access to water. It’s easy to drain the water when it’s dirty. So easy.

Here, the process is complicated, involving three buckets of water, a bar of soap, and a clothesline. Hanna helps me. I think she disapproves of the way I do it. I’ll explain it someday, but just thinking about makes me tired. I’ll explain someday when I have more energy.

I must say that I may not be alive right now if Hanna weren’t here. She taught me how to wash dishes. She taught me how to wash my clothes. She’s taught me quite a bit about life in Ghana just by her example. The first time I went out (to the Madina Market), she showed me what to do. The first time I went to church here, I was lost, but she guided me through it, giving me silent hints whenever I was confused.

I’ve decided to teach her everything I know. When she was helping me with my laundry, she was wearing this black skirt with a leprechaun pattern. I asked her if she knew what a leprechaun was, and she said she didn’t. They’re from Ireland... did she know where that was? No. It’s near England. She told me she’s heard of England, but she didn’t know where it was.

I offered to let her see my pictures some day, and she was quite excited by this idea. I told her that as soon as I get internet access on my computer, I will download a map of the world and show her where all these places were.

If I were to become a millionaire within the next few years, one of the first things I’d want to do would be to send Hanna to college. She wants to be a nurse when she grows up. I really hope she makes it!

1 comment:

carissarose said...

kate, you are doing SUCH a beautiful thing...i know it must be hard - i can't even imagine washing all of my clothes by hand, no less without running water! i know that you wrote this quite a while ago, so by now the newness must have worn off, and i hope it's getting easier. but every time you mention your influence on someone else there, who has never been friends with a white person, or who has never seen pictures of ireland - it just brings tears to my eyes because think of HOW BEAUTIFUL your influence is on them. you are truly on an amazing adventure. and you are bringing others with you!