Monday, February 1, 2010

Water Woes

After a long, hot Monday of classes and re-scheduling the school timetable for the third (and likely not the final) time, I returned home at 3:30 to find five city workers resting in the shade behind my house. This wasn't altogether unusual, and I was proceeding to my front door when they called me over. Four of them were leaning against the faded orange concrete of my house, while one was cranking on a pipe with a wrench. “Miss, we are cutting off your water because you're not paying your bill.” said the only man working, in between violent cranks. I had gathered as much by this point. I tried to explain to them that my water bill is payed for by the Ministry of Education. They told me that they were aware of this but had to cut it off anyways. I asked them why the city could not contact the Ministry and sort it out with them. “Miss that is your job,” a wall-leaner said, “we are doing our job.” No, I wanted to say, he is doing his job, you don't seem to be doing much of anything. After trying to convince them to leave it for the time being and I would go immediately to the school to get it sorted out, it was obvious that a compromise could not be reached. I stalked off, furious at the entire group of workers who of course were just doing what they were told and had no more control over executive decisions concerning my water than I had. I slammed my schoolbooks down in the house and then went over to the school to see if this couldn't be sorted. [It's important to note that I had my bedding soaking in a basin of soapy water at this time- and without water I couldn't rinse the soap out of them and hang them to dry in order to use them for sleeping that night.]

I was in a foul mood but politely explained my predicament to my principal. He dropped everything he was doing and immediately telephoned the town council. I sat in his office for nearly half an hour as he spoke with individual after individual tirelessly to try and remedy the situation. As it turned out the Ministry had dropped the ball somewhere along the way with payments, and schools all over Okahao were having their water cut off. It was not just me, it was my school and half a dozen schools throughout town. Mr. Kamati was unable to solve the problem at the time, but to me that hardly mattered. As I sat there listening to him arguing diplomatically yet sternly with town councillors to get my water reconnected I couldn't help but be touched. His desk was swamped with work, yet he dropped everything without hesitation or any sign of frustration to fight a battle for me. When I left his office he apologized for my inconvenience and promised to do what he could to get to the bottom of it. I thanked him and couldn't help smiling when I left his office.The water didn't matter at all anymore, and I felt foolish for letting it get me bent out of shape. The tenacity and immediacy with which my principal responded to my need touched me. I am truly surrounded by the most amazing people and support system that one could ask for. I have that to be thankful for, and that beats out running water any day.

...that said, I think that it is absolutely ridiculous that, between the Ministry of Education and the Okahao Town Council, an arrangement couldn't have been reached in order to prevent the disconnection of all water from over a dozen schools within the area. There is, literally, no water of over 600 learners-at my school alone- to drink, let alone clean their clothes, brush their teeth, or wash.

No comments:

Post a Comment