“You are going to Nduruma and Bwawani tomorrow?” Emmanuel asked.
I told him, "yes."
“Very dusty”, he replied.
He wasn’t kidding.
Our slow drive through 3-4 inches of fine silty dust was made only slightly tolerable by the Swahili rap music on the radio. I realized that as long as I didn’t understand what they were saying, I kinda liked it.
But about the dust……it was on everything. Tree leaves were green, but covered in brown. The windows of our little red car were outlined in dust. And when there was a little breeze? More dust.
The purpose of our travel today was to visit our newest Safe Drinking Water program. The communities we had chosen use water from a river that flows with runoff from the city of Arusha, carrying everything from plastic bags and household garbage to human and animal waste.
When trying to avoid the river water, people travel to one of several shallow wells dug near schools, but the quality of the water in the wells is also dangerous, particularly for children.
I asked the volunteers, who distribute the Proctor and Gamble water treatment packets on foot to 30 families each month, why they offered their time for a $10 monthly allowance.
One woman instantly spoke up. She said that they were tired of watching their children become terribly sick, knowing that the water was to blame, but without the money or time to collect firewood and boil water for household use. There was collective nodded agreement. “The P/G water treatment is a gift from God”, she added.
The volunteers (below) are collecting boxes of water treatment for this month's distribution.
And now for a dusty ride home.