STORY ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING AN AFRICAN WOMAN CALLS U.S.

INDUSTRIALISTS’ WIVES TO JOIN HER IN FETCHING WATER
By Sachin Sharma, VSO Volunteer, India

This is the story of a Thirty Five years old lady called Mrs. Faith Guchu. She lives in a village called Kiranga in Kandara District. In the same village is located the Kiranga Youth Polytechnic, where I am posted as a V.S.O. volunteer. This Kandara is a new district made by the Kenya government cutting this area out from the Murang’a South District. The whole of the district Kandara is an under developed area with very few tarmac roads, very few places with piped water, no street lights, no cyber café and generally the people suffer from poverty. In the whole district there is just one Post Office with only a single staff member. After declaring it a district, the government has newly established offices like the D.C.’s office, D.Y.O’s office and the Law Courts. The district headquarters are at Kandara, which the people call a small town, but really speaking it is a big village. The village Kiranga is even more under developed than the district headquarters Kandara. There in this village, lives Mrs. Faith Guchu, a mother of three. She is a poor illiterate lady whose husband works as a casual labourer in people’s farms. The family lives in small two-room house of their own which is surrounded by the houses of their relatives. I know Mrs. Guchu and the family and I’ve visited her house. The house lacks even the basic comforts like mattresses. Like most houses in the village, she does not have electricity and piped water. Two of the children go to a nearby primary school and she has a one four months old baby. She works as a house help on casual basis whenever she gets an opportunity. Life was already difficult for Mrs. Guchu and Global Warming added to her suffering. There is a borehole near her house which is not very deep but used to be full of water. But now due to Global Warming, the rains are not coming on time, and thus the borehole is dry. There is a river called Makindi which flows through the village. The river originates from Aberdares National Park which is around sixty kilometers away from Kandara. This river flows deep down from the landscape of the village through a place surrounded by bushes and stones thus its difficult to reach and also there no much water in the river. Just few years ago, it used to have a lot of water and the villagers used to visit it to fetch water from it whenever they needed. Even the villagers used to take a bath in the river as the water was up till neck but nowadays it is far below the knees. Now, her day starts with carrying jerry cans along with her two daughters aged eight and twelve years old with smaller jerry cans in the hands of both of them. They go around half a kilometer
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away to a house where there is a deep borehole which is one of the few boreholes in the village that have not dried because of being quite deep. The borehole in this house is One Hundred Feets deep. The people of this house welcome everyone who wants to take water from their borehole. The people of this house like other villagers have a high impression of VSO and they appreciate my presence in VSO uniform to help the youth of the area and they even take me as a family member. Every weekend, I live in this house to get a company and kill boredom when the Polytechnic is closed. Now, Mrs. Guchu is among so many ladies who wake up early in the morning and leave for this big house which is half a kilometer away from her house. Even before leaving for school, her two daughters accompany her to fetch water which is the very basic necessity of life. I move out for jogging almost every day in the morning as well as the evening as I want to keep fit. I meet Mrs. Guchu standing with other ladies several times fetching water outside this house. She says due to lack of rains, her life has become more difficult. A few months back when she was pregnant, she was in a lot of discomfort to come and fetch water. Now she has a four months old baby which she leaves at a nearby relative’s house and comes to fetch water with two of her daughters. They tie jerry cans on the backs with ropes and move slowly towards their house. Then, she gives a bath to two of her daughters and sends them to school. I stop to exchange greetings with all the ladies when I am passing near to this house while jogging and talk to them. Sometimes, I am not in Kiranga or do not feel like going for jogging, one can miss seeing the VSO volunteer, but one can never miss seeing these women, as water is the very basic necessity of life and one cannot survive without water. Thus, these women cannot miss coming to this house to collect water. These women incl. Mrs. Guchu talk to me very often about their suffering and as a V.S.O. volunteer, they know me and my working at the village Youth Polytechnic and are also aware about other NGOs’ like Red Cross and their valuable help for the people in this district. Thus, these all ladies respect the NGOs and take me as a reliable person who has been sent by V.S.O. to help the under-privileged youth of the area. In our discussions, she along with other ladies enquires about the reasons for the lacks of rains as they know being an international NGOs volunteer, I might be having a trustworthy reply to this question. I tell them about the whole issue of Global Warming mentioning about the Green House Gases emission by the industries which are mainly located in developed rich countries like USA, and thus resulting in lack of rains. I also tell them about the glaciers that form rivers are receding due to global warming and thus the rivers are shrinking, their water levels are reducing. I tell them that this is the reason why the nearby river Makindi has very less water now and this is the case with almost all the rivers. Mrs. Faith Guchu says that she got married fifteen years back. Before marriage since birth she used to live in a town called Kangari which lies between Aberdares National Park and Kandara. Her house was near the banks of river Makindi. She remembers that there was no borehole near her house and they used to take water directly from this river. She says that she has an emotional attachment to this river as since childhood she used to take water for everyday use from this river and also take a bath in it every morning. She says that the river is her childhood friend as she used to play in its lap (waters) for hours along with other children. Whenever she was sad she used to
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sit at the bank of the river with her feet hanging into its water and just watch and watch the flowing water for hours and she used to get mental relaxation automatically, she says that time her friend (river Makindi) used to be so rich (had a lot of water) and one could cross the river only by swimming. When she got married to a man of Kiranga village and reached her husband’s house, she was happy to know that Makindi river was present in this village Kiranga also to welcome her. Here her house was far from the river but once in a month she started visiting her friend (the river) crossing the difficult landscape of bushes and stones and take a refresher shower in it. She feels unhappy to see that every year her friend is becoming poorer and is no longer rich (has reduced water level every year). And this year, when the borehole near her house was dry, she went down the landscape to see her friend, she almost wept to see that her childhood friend (river Makindi) is now very sick (has a little water) and is unable to make her play in her arms (take refreshing shower in its waters). She sat near her friend for a few minutes and climbed back to the village with a heavy heart. Mrs. Faith Guchu along with other women sometimes request me to let them into this house where they come to fetch water to watch TV which is a luxury to these poor ladies who do not even have electricity connection in their houses. I allow them to watch TV with me. They all like to sit on the floor watching the T.V. I play channels showing English Action movies. They see in these movies White ladies attending parties carrying cats in their laps like babies. They also see white ladies driving long cars, playing golf and availing other luxuries. The ladies enquire from me whether the white ladies do not carry jerry cans and fetch water from boreholes like them and neither wander in the villages looking for firewood. I reply that their countries are the most responsible for global warming but are the least sufferers of global warming. I tell them that these white ladies have piped water and cooking gas in their houses and thus they never need to wander outside the home looking for water and firewood. After that, these ladies enquire about the death of wild animals due to drying of rivers in the national parks and these ladies are smart enough to conclude that this is due to global warming. I also agree to their conclusion. At these, they say that these White people are very fond of visiting Kenya’s wildlife Safari and take photos of our forests and wildlife. These women say that the Kenyan government should make Cold Storages at the gates of National Parks. The Forest Department should preserve the bodies of all these wild animals that die because of thirst inside these cold storages. The white tourists who come to enjoy the National Parks must first all be shown these animals’ dead bodies. The cold storages must have the boards written “Please pay homage to these victims of global warming and take home their photos and then you are welcome to our national park”. One of these ladies is a bit educated and says that she knows about the existence of embassies of one country in other countries and vice versa. She says that Kenya and other Africans countries’ embassies in rich developed countries like US should display these dead animals’ photos on notice boards along with the complete reason and story behind their death in order to create awareness in developed countries about the hazards of global warming in this other part of the globe. The other ladies who are almost illiterate do not know what is an embassy are explained by her about embassies and their purpose. These ladies enquire to me about why these White women, who are so loving and caring towards Cats as if they are human babies, are not caring towards us African ladies, Children and the Big

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Cats (Wild animals) that are suffering enormously and the wild animals even dying because of global warming done by these white countries. I tell them about the whole issue of Global Warming mentioning about the Green house gases emission by the industries which are mainly located in the developed rich countries like U.S.A. and thus lack of rains. Mrs. Guchu then desperately says loudly, “The wives of the industrialists of US and other rich countries, who regularly visit Beauty Parlours, Golf Courses, carry Cats in their laps and form institutions for protection of Women’s Rights, join her just for a month, especially while being pregnant, in this water fetching and they will know what their industries have done to these poor African countries.’’ She says that when her baby is four years old, she will give him a small bottle in his hands to carry water like her, as she wants him to adapt since childhood, so that he can face the horrors of Global Warming when he will be a young man. She does not want him to be hit by the devil of Global Warming all of a sudden in a young age like she has been hit. She even adds that the village is not as green as it used to be some years ago. She is poor thus cannot afford cooking gas, thus she uses firewood to cook food. Unlike some years ago, she now wanders in the village looking for firewood wasting her time. Mrs. Faith Guchu also says that the climate of this area is generally very pleasant as it is very moderate, neither so cold nor so hot throughout the year. But this year the climate is a bit hot and sometimes she feels the need of a fan but she doesn’t have electricity in her house. The other ladies say that this increased heat is also due to global warming, I support them agreeing with their conclusion. The ladies enquire what more hazards are going to occur in the long run due to global warming. I tell them that as per VSO’s Global education and other environment literatures I have read which are put after research and are very reliable, if the global warming continues like this, after twenty to thirty years, there will be more of global warming resulting in receding of glaciers, lack of water, destruction of wildlife, increase of temperature, acid rains. I also tell them that due to increased heat the polar ice caps will start melting, thereby increasing the ocean levels, resulting in sinking of coastal areas and so many islands. I tell them the beautiful African islands like Mauritius, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Sao Tome & Principe, and Zanzibar which are world famous island destinations are facing the risk of loosing existence in the ocean waters. Even the famous city Mombasa is in danger. So many islands and coastal areas will be under water and the world map will look different after thirty years due to global warming with so many coastal areas, islands missing from it. I tell them that they have heard about Vision 2030 of the Govt. for the achievement of millennium goals, but even if we achieve this goal we will find ourselves to see that at our so loved Mt. Kenya has become poor by loosing most of its glaciers with almost no snow. The ladies almost mourn silently for a few minutes after listening to this what they call ‘A Horror Story’. These ladies say that VSO’s foundation is from white countries and has been formed by those whites who really care for poor Africans that and sent the village Polytechnic received two volunteers for their welfare in the past and I am the third one. Thus, these ladies want me to take this message through VSO’s humane whites to the White industrialists and their wives so that they do significant to end the global warming which they have done or the wives join them in fetching water. They say that this is also a VSO volunteer’s duty to convey to higher grounds what is
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happening at the rural grassroots level. These ladies say to me that they will even scold me as elder sisters if the message is not conveyed. I assure them that I’ll be placing this touching story on VSO’s Global Education blog for people throughout the globe to read and will also see if this can be published. They are convinced as they know VSO is a highly credible NGO and their voice will reach the world through VSO’s Global education blog. This all fetching of water is not done by her only but in fact it is an activity of most of the village ladies, the only thing that differs is that they go to different houses which are near to their respective houses and have deep boreholes. In the end, Mrs. Faith Guchu sadly says that Global Warming is a hazard and the rich western countries are causing it, and says in her Swahili language as “hizi nchi za wazungu zinatufanya sisi mataifa fukara wa Africa wahasiriwa wa Global Warming.” (These Mzungu countries are making us poor Africans a victim of Global Warming). So, this is a real, grassroots story from my placement about Global Warming.

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