Tuesday, July 28, 2009

bad water/good water

this morning, the water from the robinet has been getting clearer but today i tried to get water from my filter and nothing would come out. i opened the filter and no wonder -- the candles were completely covered in this thick, off white slime. luckily i have a filter so i didn't actually have to drink all of that crap but i can't help but think of everybody else who had to drink the same water without a filter. i can just picture it coating their insides.

gave the candles a good cleaning.

but FINALLY, REAL RAIN! can i be so hopeful to think that the rains are here to stay? it's only been an hour and this is already a significant rain -- of course i would prefer it to go all night than stop after an hour.

if the rains stay consistent now, can it save the harvest? i wonder how the next year of food will be, due to this late start. fatou was annoying again today and said -- in front of a bunch of women -- that in 5 months i HAVE to send them money so that they can eat. she said it in her smug-cat kind of way and i instinctively felt like refusing because of her annoyingness, even though i've been secretly conjuring up a plan to send money to the next volunteer (my replacement) for a sack of millet each month if it was apparent that it would be a very hungry year.

i know it's not sustainable (as it is charity, really) and i have lots of conflicting feelings about it. a part of me feels relieved to be leaving and released from the obligation of feeding this family even though they're not MY wives or my children. i've really spent a ridiculous amount of money on food for them and -- as is almost always the case (and a subsequent problem) with the presence of a PCV -- they've become dependent on me to feed all 12 of them, plus grandma in the other compound. but then how can i go back to america, land of plenty and abundance and food security and ignore the needs of people i've lived with for 2 years, especially with the knowledge of the craptastic rainy season we had? isn't that just cold blooded? simultaneously, i think: but if they had listened to me about savings and spending wisely and rationing and healthy foods, maybe they wouldn't need my help. if they had listened to world vision's advice and stored food away in the silo...but that's unfair of me because behavior change takes years, maybe even generations to occur. and yet again, if i bought them food -- what about the rest of the village? what about the neighboring villages? they all contain people i care about and people who have been hit by this bad weather in the same way -- my family just got lucky that i got placed with them. and lastly, i really don't want to create the dependency that develops between villages and peace corps for PCVs to solve all their financial problems. i'm convinced that sometimes when the see me, all they see are CFA bills with CFA coins for eyes and earrings.

so really, i have no conclusion and in my own small personal struggle we see the overlying problem of "development," especially "grassroots" or "sustainable" development. people want food and money and they want the fastest way to it. they don't want trees or new corps or new vocational skills or lessons in technology, farming, or health -- they want food in their belly and money in their pocket RIGHT NOW. and it might seem a little crass or harsh to put it that way, but for God's sake -- they're poor and for generations have been. who can blame them for wanting the instant gratification of finally getting their share of the world's abundances? i can't.

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