To never have to start a sentence with "I wish I would have..."


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Saturday, February 12, 2011


Uganda is very much a culture of "What's mine is yours," or maybe more accurately, "What's yours that I don't have is also mine." This can be ideal in some cases, if you grow a surplus of maize and I grow a surplus of beans, then we can both have maize and beans. When it doesn't work out so well is when you take what I have and then there isn't enough of it for either of us.

I ramble. My village is currently out of water, as is much of Uganda. I've had issues with water since the day I moved in. To me, a surplus of water is a luxury. After spending the better part of the last year conserving water to the point of having to choose between drinking water and bathing, I was ecstatic to return from holiday and find my rain tank FULL. You really have no idea how happy I was! I hassled people to no end in order to get my gutters fixed so the empty rain tank could collect water. The gutters were finally fixed and the rain tank was filling, but I was sharing its contents with my neighbor, another PCV. She recently moved back to America and the tank is now all mine, which means I'll have more than enough water to last me through to the next rainy season...which means I can bathe AND drink AND do laundry! I'm the happiest PCV around!

Until this morning...

Martha, by favorite neighbor in the world, delivered my milk (which I pay for) this morning, like she does every morning. This time, however, as she was pouring the milk into my bowl, she stops and says, "Ashley, you give me water from your tank." I'm immediately torn. I love Martha to death, as much as I love her 5 daughters. But that's the thing, Martha has 5 daughters...and is not nearly as conscious about conserving water as I am. If this is a one time thing, sure, no problem, fill your jerry cans. What's mine is yours, right? So I drudgingly unlocked my rain tank and watched as she filled her 20L jerry can not once, not twice, but THREE addition to the buckets Jackie and Joy kept filling. I make a 20L jerry can last about a week, not counting drinking water, and I was almost in tears when she took 3 jerry cans worth of water from my precious supply.

I feel selfish beyond belief, but come on...I haven't had water for a year! Fingers crossed this was a one time, emergency type thing. But something gives me the feeling it's going to continue to happen, in which case I'll be forced to have the awkward "PC forbids such and such" conversation, my go to to avoid tricky situations with people in the village. For example, Ugandan: "Let me borrow your computer." Me: "I'd love to, but PC says it's only for work purposes. I'm so sorry."

Moral of the story kids, CONSERVE YOUR WATER! At the very least, appreciate it because you have no idea how much it sucks to know the amount of CLEAN DRINKING water that is wasted every day in America when people flush the toilet while the rest of us in Uganda have to choose between washing our clothes or taking a bath.


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