Water is life. Sanitation is dignity. Those two phrases go together like salt and pepper, or peanut butter goes with jelly. Once you access water, there is a host of outcomes that follow. Sure clean water means healthier villages, happier children, the possibility of new streams of income sources made possible through irrigation or fish farming industry. But there are also some potentially unanticipated but very obvious once you think about them, outcomes that are not quite as marketable.
“If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.” – George Monbiot
Meet some Malawian women who personify the truth of Monbiot’s statement.
The rainy season has just ended, which is why I travel in April and not March. Oddly, it begins to rain. The crowds grow. The raindrops turn to downpour. People, standing under umbrellas and trees, or seeking shelter in doorways, wave. We wave back. Chingali is excited today. The president is coming! And we are trying to race ahead of her convoy to get to the district office.
Going to church in Malawi, like most things here, takes time. I used to begrudgingly drag my flip flops through the sand before plopping down on a thin wooden bench for a few hours of church. No longer a bored
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a bill of rights for women called the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Heard of it? Me neither. Thirty years later, the women it was written to empower still haven’t gotten the memo. Why is that? And why is a bill of rights for women needed anyway?
Next week I will go to church next to the lake where I swam as a girl.
I return every 18 months or so to visit the water in Malawi. Only the water I’m interested in as a woman is not the lake, but is accessed from deep in the ground or channeled down from the mountains to villages below. Malawians, like every person on the earth, need safe water for drinking, washing, cleaning, and growing.
I go to make sure that the water projects, largely funded by children in the United States, are proceeding as planned. They have trusted Watering Malawi with their hard earned quarters and dimes and I take that trust seriously. I also invite a friend or two, to come help hold us accountable to this good work.
This time I am traveling with strong women – a mother, a sister, and a storyteller