by Heather Reynolds, Experience Mission IMMERSION Staff
Original post written in the fall of 2012, during the first IMMERSION term to Africa.
"Buscar agua" is a way of life in Mozambique. Every day, women in the community of Mocuba walk several kilometers to the nearest river or well to fetch water for their families. Water to drink. Water to bathe. Water to wash platos and ropa. Water to survive. But water is scarce at this time of year, also known as the dry season or hunger season. Because it hasn't rained in Mocuba for several months, crops are underproducing and wells are drying up. Ever since our team arrived here, we've been praying for rain. Selfishly, we pray for it so that it will calm the dust in the air and bring temporary relief from the heat, but we know that rain is far more critical to the people who call Mocuba home. And for their sake, we hope that it will come quickly. Life hangs in the rain clouds.
Not only does physical life depend on water, but social life in Mocuba also revolves around water. For the past few days, I have been carrying my own water back and forth from the community well to my host's home. The well is a sort of gathering place for women in the surrounding village. They help one another pull water from the well and then lift the heavy buckets onto their heads. I've slowly mastered the technique of hauling buckets from the well and then carrying the water in a bucket on my head. It's an extremely difficult task and although I do my best not to spill, I often become the center of attention at the well--accidentally dumping water all over myself. When I spill, the local women laugh endlessly. They clap their hands together and throw back their heads--an expression of reckless joy. And just when the laughter begins to settle down, I mutter the phrase, "Eu estou molhada" ("I'm wet") and the uproar starts again.
Not only are the local women joyful and kind, but they are also amazingly strong. I often stare at them with wide eyes and admiration. While I must practice carrying water with a small child's bucket, they carry 25 liters or more on their heads. Not to mention they do it barefoot. In the heat of the afternoon. With a baby strapped to their back.
It's a simple, difficult life but they do it with smiles and are eager to help us learn about their culture. And I feel so honored to share daily life with these women. It might seem like a small thing to fetch water, and on extremely hot days I must remind myself not to take these kinds of moments for granted. I must remind myself that we have been given an incredible opportunity to serve through everyday activities, to be a part of grassroots missions and something that is much more important than it appears on the surface. To join them in laughter. To share the burden of carrying water. To lift up our voices to heaven and wait for rain.
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