Running Water

Debbie and I have a PNG host family here, sort of like a host family for exchange students. The first time we went to their hut, Debbie asked wasmama, the young mother of the household, whether she helped with the “garden” where they grow their food that day. Margaret said no, she carried water.

The family’s hut has no running water. When they need more water, Margaret goes down the mountain with a collection of plastic Coke bottles, fills them up, and brings them back. She probably carries back more than fifty pounds of water in a string bag called a bilum. She puts the handle around her forehead and carries the water on her back, walking up a steep mountain path. This is common here; we have already seen old women carrying heavy loads in bilum during our training hikes.

Waspapa, the young father, said in the trade language we’re learning, “PNG women must go down the mountain to get water.

Drinking water tap.

Drinking water came from this tap.

Waitskin have a tank.” (Waitskin is the generic term for non-PNG people like us.) He’s right. The compound where we have our training has a number of large tanks that collect rain water. He was well aware that we can turn the faucet and get clean drinking water any time we want.

People here consider us quite wealthy, in part because we have the luxury of drinking water from a tap. We don’t have to carry our water up the mountain.

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2 Responses

  1. Wally says:

    Your story about water makes me thirsty but I feel guilty because I can go to the refrigerator and it is always there (except when the power goes off, which ih Howell lately is too many times.) We loved the sounds of the nite but our birds except owls sleep at nite. Its the chipmunks that have a strange cluk-ing noise that drives us batty! I hope you and Deb were Scouts as youngsters because I would be afraid of cutting off my arm with that macchette.

    Blessings on Your stay in Summer Camp,

    Wally

    • Steve says:

      I hope to post a “sounds of the morning” here soon. It’s very different than Michigan. Fortunately for us, we haven’t had roosters crowing under our floor at all hours of the morning, as some of the others have experienced.

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