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And for once I was SuperMom

Monday, April 26, 2010

Water World

My sister in law just went to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip to bring clean water to a community. This got me thinking, most of the world doesn’t have clean drinkable water readilty available. Including myself.
When we got to Nairobi we asked a Kenyan friend of ours what does she does about water. Assuming that she would know the true risk and not have the reactive ‘it must be dirty because we’re not in America’ attitude. Her reponse:
“I boil it and then I filter it, I’ve had typhoid twice.” She then proceeds to tell us a story where a few years back the minister of water started pocketing the money to be used for purification and put chalk in the water instead. Many people got sick.
We chose to boil our water. It’s cheap and kills everything. I asked another one of my Kenyan friends if they boil or filter their water and the looked at each other and shrugged, the wife looked over her nine month pregnant belly and pronounced while pumping her arms up and down in a flexing pose,
“No, we have strong stomachs.” The husband then paused and said thoughtfully,
“Well there was that outbreak of cholera…” I chuckled under my breath, ain’t nobodies stomach stronger than cholera.
On our vacation in the states I was amazed at the ease of water. I didn’t have to think about it at all. I could fill up my water bottle from any sink in the house, rather than have to gauge how much boiled water we have left and then decide whether or not to throw another kettle on the stove. I felt like I was swimming in clean potable water, the luxury almost made me giddy. It struck me as odd as I watched people swill water out of plastic bottles. Why do you need to buy water when it comes clean right out of the sink?
Having a baby has made our water situation all the more tricky. She is still only nursing so I don’t need to worry about drinking water or clean water for formula or baby food. (I will soon) Where it gets tricky is with my pump. I work part time so I am away from Emma for about five hours each work day. I end up pumping once or twice a day. Now back in the states I would just pump, rinse out the mouthpiece with fresh clean water from the sink and throw it in the dishwasher whenever we ran it. We don’t have a dishwasher. We don’t have fresh clean water. So do I rinse the pump in the typhoid water and say a little prayer. Do I boil it every night? What do I do? So far I’ve been boiling water and rinsing it. Whenever we do dishes by hand it goes through. This may be clean enough, it may not, who knows. The baby hasn’t gotten sick yet.
Last week was spring break and Emma’s sleep schedule…well, what sleep schedule? My pump sat fallow for about a week. When I went to go use it and get a stock pile built up for the coming work week I unscrewed the mouthpiece from the bottle and a smell like a year old slimy sponge whipped out and slapped me across the face. Mildew. In my breastpump. How? Am I? Supposed? To clean this?
I unscrew everything and rinse it with precious boiled water. I took a Q-tip to it. I raise it tentatively to my nose, whap! Still smells like mildew. I bite and rip the cotton off the Q-tip and stick it back into all the little valves and crevices. Another sniff, whabam! Still won’t die. I relent and boil it, just throw it in a pot and let ‘er rip. I pull everything out with tongs. I rest in the knowledge that nothing lives through boiling, it still carries a nasty sponge smell and there is a little black fuzzy patch behind a valve. I see Emma’s baby Tylenol syringe, I have an idea. I grab the syringe and suck up still boiling hot water and holding the pump precariously in the tongs I start to syringe water back through all the little holes. I look up at Scott and say moodily,
“This is going to burn me.”
I am doing all of this in a dark kitchen because light in our kitchen blew and after three mis-purchased bulbs we finally got the right size only to have it not work. We are assuming the wiring is faulty. Or something like that…
I didn’t burn myself and eventually my pump started to smell like nothing. My kingdom, my kingdom for a dishwasher…

1 comment:

PI-Bill said...

You might look into the Bio Sand filter for drinking water. I have been helping put these in in Palawan Philippines. See http://manzwaterinfo.ca/ or http://cawst.org/ or wmodavis.blogspot.com for more information. They achieve up to 98% removal of pathogens. They're cheap, robust, and relatively easy to manufacture in any country of the world.
Bill