Starting at 00:01 on Friday 11 March and lasting a week, my Lenten challenge will be a #coldwaterweek. The name comes from the principle part of the challenge – cold water, but it also signifies no energy, or low energy usage.
I'm raising money for CAFOD's Lent Appeal. Recently, when getting my washing machine fixed, I remembered Proscovia in Uganda. How when she had to collect water, she couldn’t go to school. She would be late because her family desperately needed water.
I've been thinking about Proscovia and her family…
If there is a drought, I walk for two hours, wait an hour and walk two hours back with my jerry can. I make this journey twice a day.
I get back home at midday, take a drink, maybe clean the home, give my animals a drink, then I set off again to find water.
I have no time to earn money to buy food. No time to farm – my crop dies, or is eaten by pests. No time to fetch wood for a fire to cook or stay warm. No time to get money to pay for my children’s education. No time to get money for medicines I might need.
My life is focused on water – focused on staying alive.
Here are the rules for this seven-day challenge:
- Only cold water. I’ll only shower with cold water. I’ll wash my cups and plates cold water. I’ll wash my hands in cold water. Clothes washed in cold water. I’m sorry about this work colleagues and anyone who sits next to me, there will be moments when my pain is your pain.
- Only cold floors, cold walls and cold rooms. Heating relies on hot water in my home. That’s going off. No room will have heating and I will spend as little time as possible (apart from work) in heated rooms. This reminded me of Razir and her family in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and how because the family needed food and water, they didn’t have time to collect firewood. Her home was freezing.
- Only raw food. I think here it reminds me more of the Ta Loke Kone village in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis. They couldn’t find fuel to cook with and had to eat rice soaked in stagnant water. I’ve tried soaking rice in water to make it edible. You can eat it, but it’s revolting. All my food will be raw. No bread. No cheese. No vinegar. No salt. No food from kind friends. Have no fear, I have a wonderful recipe for oat ‘milk’ or ‘bland-oaty-white-drink’ as I like to call it, that I’m willing to share with anyone.
- Only natural light when not in work. In many of the villages I travelled to in Uganda, the people lacked fuel. Some might have batteries, but not very many. Likewise in Myanmar, there was little power – the community had to pay for fuel to run a generator.
- Walking – no transport. Again, if a family has to collect water, they have very little time to earn money, so they wouldn’t be able to hire a motorcycle taxi to take them to hospital if they were ill. I will walk everywhere.
- I can use a computer at work and the telephone, but have to minimise its usage. I can’t really get round this one, however, I will turn off my computer at lunch and will leave the building. I can also use a camera to record my progress.
- Use public phone boxes. While mobile technology is available to many people in even the poorest countries in the world, there is still the matter of paying for it. So, I’m going to turn my mobile off. A confession: I can’t say I’m that sad about this part of the challenge.
- Send letters to people and use public phone boxes. If I need to make an arrangement to meet anyone, I will send a letter, or prearrange the meeting.
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