Dancing in the heat
March 21, 2017
World Water Day is March 22nd. That’s tomorrow. In anticipation for this day, I’ve decided to share a story with you that I wrote as a competition entry for National Geographic Traveller (it didn’t win, but hey, I’m not bitter or anything.).
Back in November ’15 One Difference and World Duty Free (my employer at the time) took me on the trip of a lifetime to Malawi. Water really is the most simple necessity there could be, and even I’m still guilty of taking that fact for granted at times. But let’s all try and remind ourselves as much as we can, yeah? Because some people STILL don’t have access to it. And that’s absurd and heartbreaking and ridiculous in the year 2017. We can change this people.
Enjoy, share the word, tell people about One, and don’t waste your water, friends…
We stepped off the bus onto the planes of Blantyre, the midday heat hitting us in the face like a welcome hug. Struggling plants crunched beneath my feet as I looked out on the never ending horizon.
The landscape was baron and dry. The terracotta soil found its way into every nook of my feet and the sun belted down with no remorse on my skin, the slightest hint of a breeze.
Elderly women sought shelter under a lone mango tree when I realised, this was real. This was life to them. Nothing.
Children swarmed our bus as we emerged, grins from ear to ear in anticipation of our project. Tiny little hands reaching out to touch their Western visitors with a mix of confusion and happiness.
This village had never had access to clean water, a necessity so many of us take for granted, and that day, their lives where to be changed forever.
The team split up, half to start drilling a borehole, deep into the unforgiving ground, to reach fresh water that lay 25-40 metres under the surface. Such a short distance in comparison to their current source, a few kilometres away.
The rest of us immersed ourselves within the community of our new found friends. We brought footballs, bubbles and skipping ropes with us, and the people erupted with joy as we played, laughed and sang with them. Such simple pleasures in a different world. I saw a woman, with a child tied effortlessly around her back with a piece of cloth, run and jump and sing for the football. How the child remained in place is anyones guess…
As I stood, watching in awe of the natives to this intense land, a dancing circle broke out amongst the women. One girl, crouched in the centre with nothing but a bucket and some sticks and started a beat. The others, gathered in circle to jump in and dance in pairs. The sheer sound was enough to make me elated with joy. I stood and clapped, and cheered, onlooking at the movement in their bodies, until I caught someones eye. Before I had a chance to think, I was in. The roar of clapping and drum beats filled my body with exhilaration and I started to dance. A dark, coarse hand took mine, and I was pulled into the centre to show what I could do. This was my time to shine. To be one with them. I’ve never felt so free. Arms flailing, women cheering, laughter so happy it seemed canned. The sun pelting upon us, it was as if time stood still, if just for a moment.
It didn’t stop. Before long the entire village had gathered, all moved over to the drill site. It was time.
Cheers dimmed in anticipation, the drill had hit. Within seconds, a spray of water as high as a house flew from the ground. Roars consumed the open space and at that very moment, there was life. Amongst the joy, and the sadness and the poverty and the hope, there was life. Forever.
One Difference is a life changing organisation. To get involved in their continued commitment to bring water to Africa, or just find out some more information, peep over at their site here.