Monday, April 11, 2011

Community at the Water Pump

Dikupita Madzi Ku Mpope....

These are words I will always remember from my time in Malawi. They mean "I am getting water from the water pump"...and in order to run a feeding center for 150 children, you must do this several times a day. In order to help me learn the language of Chichewa (Chiwe), the women at the feeding center in Mponela would constantly ask me what I was doing, and very often, this was the answer.

Getting water from the water pump was a very physical task, but somehow it was an enjoyable task.

The water pump is a source of life for the village. It is where water, an essential for living is found. It is where, at anytime of day, you can go to get water, and meet a friend. It is a place for sharing stories and laughter, but more than that, the water pump is a place to experience community. 

After you walk to the water pump and pump the water into your bucket (and if you are an azungu like me are probably already exhausted at this point), you must then get the incredibly heavy bucket of water on your head.

Women carry heavy items on their heads for good reason...once you get it up there, it is much easier to carry, and if it is something like water, it is much easier to carry without spilling.

But first, there is the task of getting it up there.

Although I don't doubt that there are some African super women who are capable of getting the bucket on their head without help, it is a two person job.

As soon as your bucket is full, someone jumps in to help. There is no wait to watch you struggle. There is no wait to see if someone else will step up to help you. There is someone there, helping you lift it and place it centered on your head, with no questions, just a smile.

And although it may be someone you have never met, they are a friend.

The water pump is the center of life for a community, in more ways than one.


Jess Elyse said...

Love this!
I'm also loving your new header! :-)

Uhm, also...did I ever mention to you that I am learning Swahili??
Because I am!

Rebecca said...

That's awesome! Hopefully you'll get to use it lots :)

And thanks, Ashley at Eisy Morgan just did my blog design for just went up! In fact, you saw it before I did :)

Jess Elyse said...

I don't know a lot of it yet, but I know some basics and can form sentences. :-)

I hope one day that I will be able to use it!

What language do they mostly speak in Zimbabwe?

Rebecca said...

In Zimbabwe they speak Shona and Ndebele (which is close to Zulu).

Even though I was in Zimbabwe much longer than Malawi, I actually can speak a lot more Chichewa than anything...there were a lot less people there who spoke english, so I had to learn if I wanted to communicate.

Jess Elyse said...

That is so cool! I love languages of any kind. My teacher is from Kenya. He is so awesome. And, well they say that the best way to learn the language is to go to the native area and get thrown into it!

Rebecca said...

Yes! I totally agree that being immersed in the language is the best way to learn. I highly recommend a trip to Africa :)

halys said...

Rebecca, I just love your blog. You have the sweetest heart...God Bless you!