Thriving in the Midst of Great Challenges

Post a Comment » Written on February 4th, 2010     
Filed under: Disaster Relief, General

Over the past three days Debbie Blue, Robert Johnson and I have had the great opportunity of visiting threes project sites in Ethiopia of our partner Water First.  CWR has partially funded the three water system projects. One is fully functional, providing clean water at several locations convenient to all the families in the community.  Another is just a couple of weeks from completion, and construction will soon begin in the third community.  Providing clean water that is easily accessible is what Water First does very well.

Kindenta (a mere guess at the spelling) lives in the community that doesn’t yet have a water system. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She and I carried 20 liter water tanks on our backs from the local water hole to her house 2 km (a little more than a mile) away.  Kindenta who is about 5 feet and has a small frame  carried the tank on her back with ease. I, on the other hand,  quickly broke out into a sweat and was very ready to get that tank off my back when we got to Kindenta’s house.

As we walked I got to know a bit about Kindenta and her life. I found out that she carries these tanks from the water source to her house up to eight times a day. That means she often walks about 20 miles a day, 10 of those miles with a full tank of water on her back, just to get water for her family.  What makes the story even more amazing is that she is fetching  dark brown water that is contaminated by animals that stand, drink, and defecate in the water

When I asked Kindenta how old she is she replied, “About 35.”  She had to drop out of school after grade 8 in order to get married at about the age of 15.  She now has 7 children (don’t know if she has lost any others), the oldest 16 and the youngest 1.  I asked if her husband or her sons help her carry water and she said, “Absolutely not because carrying water is women’s work.”  When I met her 16 year old son, he didn’t appear strong enough to carry water.  He is very short and thin and looks no more than 10 or 11.  I asked her if she ever gets a break from carrying water and she said that she gets rest for five days after childbirth before she starts fetching water again.

In addition to raising 7 children and spending several hours every day fetching water, Kindenta also cooks in a very simple kitchen, works with her husband in the fields, helps take care of the chickens and the cows, weaves beautiful baskets, and keeps a very tidy house with no electricity and a dirt floor.

I asked Kindenta what brings her the most joy in life and she said, “When I see my children healthy and playing.”

In the midst of many challenges, not the least of which is the water situation in her community, Kindenta is thriving as a mother. She is definitely a model parent, especially when it comes to demonstrating sacrificial love for her family.  Kindenta is a dedicated, hard working woman who perseveres despite great difficulties in her life.  Thanks to the Water First water system construction which is about to get under way, within a year Kindenta’s life will become easier and the health of her family will likely significantly improve.

Often times we think that the poor in the world are simply people that need our help. However the reality is that among the poor in the world, there are many Kindenta’s who have much to teach us, the non-poor, about what it means to persevere in difficulty and to live selflessly and sacrificially for others.

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