Arms Day Everyday


The magic of not having running water is that there is no magic. I am made very aware of where every liter comes from and where every liter goes. I’ll start with where it goes.
It’s actually very easy to use less water when gallons of it aren’t gushing out at you everytime you attempt to interact with it.
I use:
-about 3-4 liters a day for drinking including coffee, tea and other drinks.
– for daily activities like handwashing, teeth brushing, face washing, etc it’s around 2 liters
-1-3 liters for bathing, about every other day
-5-6 liters for hairwashing which happens once a week
-dishes use about 4 liters and that happens give or take twice a week
-a decent load of laundry takes a full 25 liter bucket. I like to pretend this happens once a week but unicorns aren’t real either. I tend to wait for the rain and have a laundry party.

I know I still use a lot of water when I have access to plumbing. I bathe/shower daily when I can. And I catch myself leaving the water running while using a sink. My showers are much shorter though. Im in and out. I lost my ability to lounge. I have no dreams about conserving water back in the states. I’m going to use all the water!

I own a few 25 liter buckets that I use to fetch water. Villages and therefore volunteers have several variants on how they get there water. There are taps which is just a spigot that can be turned on and off. There are several different kinds of pumps. Some have generators that are used to pump water into a storage container. Sometimes there is a pipe sticking out of a mountain with free flowing water. And of course, there’s the classic river/lake source.
I have a pump powered by me. I’m terrible at estimating distances but, it’s about 30 yards away from my house downhill.


When I first got to site my host m’e insisted that I tell my brothers when I needed water and they would fetch it for me. But being the self reliant, independent person I like to tell myself I am, I rebelled and starting getting my water on my own. The first time I pumped and carried my bucket home on my own I was so excited I texted my mom.

The drought in Lesotho  has drastically affected the water tables in Lesotho. The rainy season just ended with much less rain than usual. Things will only worsen as we head into winter (winter is coming…). Some volunteers have moved sites because of a lack of water or are helped by Peace Corps to make sure they have enough water.

When I first started pumping my water it was a breeze. Show up, pump, water gushes,  bucket fills with a beige-ish water, carry home. Then towards the end of winter last year, it got a little bit harder. I would have to pump just to pull the water up and then continue to pump the water out. Everyday it would take longer to pull the water up. Eventually I started counting.
For awhile the norm was about 80 pumps pre water and then 100 to fill a bucket.
Then last week I went to my pump and it took 200+ pumps to start the water and 400+ to fill the bucket up with brown water. You can’t take a break because then you have to repump to get the water started again. It wasn’t fun.

After dealing with that a few times I decided to call in back up. Starting today I take my empty buckets down to school and the kids help fill them up at lunch. There’s a pump closer to my school that most people in the village use that is easier and has more water. So now there is some magic to where my water comes from. I bring empty buckets to school and come home to full buckets. I’m going to need to find a new arm workout.



One Comment

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  1. Thank you for that vision of what you experience daily. You are an amazing person to do this to help our world.
    All good wishes. Steve and Chris Lyons

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