Friday 4 May 2012

African Adventure Days 4 and 5

Yesterday morning we heard the story of Wesselina, a woman living in a rural village in Morocco. Each day she has to walk 3 miles to the nearest well to fetch water. She must then carry the heavy load of water back the same three miles over rough terrain. She does this two or three times a day. In the dry season, when the well dries up, the distance doubles to a total of twelve miles.

When Wesselina returns with the water, her family can drink, wash and cook. But the water is not clean and she often gets sick.

In order to experience the sort of walk she has to face, we set off along cliff path. After a brisk 20 minute walk, we turned onto the beach and had a scavenger hunt. It was cold and windy, but we had jobs to do and running about helped to keep us warm. We found all sorts of exciting things, some natural and some man-made.

We headed back to the Hall, collecting litter on the way to help clean up the beach. Everyone was tired and ready for a drink and something to eat. In total, we had travelled about 2 miles; a third of the distance that Wesselina travels on a single trip to fetch water, and we had not had to carry our refreshments back with us.

In the afternoon, the children helped to return water to the village by building a pipeline. This involved careful thought and good teamwork.

We had a camp fire in the evening, with the wood we had collected the day before. This was an opportunity for the children to share some of their talents and to toast marshmallows!

It was then the turn of the boys to spend a night in the African huts.

Without the rolling thunder and deluge of rain of the night before, it was a less-dramatic entrance into the village and the boys were soon asleep.

We awoke to the final morning of our stay here, and after packing our bags, there was one more important task that we had to complete.

As we had discovered yesterday, our access to clean water was something that we take very much for granted. But without the technology that we have in this country, how could water be filtered so that Wesselina, and the countless others in her situation, drink without getting ill?

To begin to understand the process, we once more headed to the beach, where the teams worked together to build a rapid water filter using stones. 

After a short break on the beach, making the most of some slightly warmer weather, we returned to the village to finish the job.

There, we learnt that a small proportion of the cost of our trip (a total of just £40) had enabled a slow-sand water filter to be built in a Moroccan village, bringing clean water to a family, and making their lives just a little easier. We reflected on just how lucky we are to have clean running water on tap, some of us with as many as 18 taps in our houses, when many rural Africans have to walk many miles to access water that is far from clean.
There was one last chance to come together as a team, before departing back to our homes and families, but everyone left with beaming smiles and the knowledge that they had helped others.

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