Field Note #132: Life in Dahakhani
In the United States, a normal day for the average citizen begins around six in the morning. A typical morning includes waking up, taking a shower, brushing your teeth and having breakfast. A normal morning in the village can be quite similar, but it can be quite different as well. I recently spent four days in the community of Dahakhani. We have been working in the village for around four months, and I decided it was time to stay in the community instead of a hotel close by. I received a good picture from spending days in the community and bringing volunteers there, yet I wanted to experience a taste of what these people live through everyday.
Spending a few days in this village or any area of low socio-economic development will teach you something. During my recent four day stay, I experienced days filled with heat. I began to enjoy the amount of sweat coming from my body because it provided some coolness. Shade is a hot commodity for everyone in the community. The people not at work tend to their goats or the fields. One image that inspired me throughout was the villagers ability not to sweat, and I may not know enough about bodily functions, but it seemed that the community members would retain the water in their bodies. Unlike them, I had to constantly have water running through my system. Their bodies had adapted to the harsh conditions, and no one was complaining about working.
The water conditions in the community make it difficult for anyone to live. The bottom half of the village has to go to a nearby pond for their water, and the top half of the village share a small number of taps that are available to them. I drank the bottled water I had brought with me. Eventually, the bottles ran out, and a bucket with a Sawyer filter became my source of water.
The best part of every evening was taking a shower, and I don't mean a shower with a faucet head, curtain and a nice tub. Our shower was a public tap in a neighbor's front yard. We would put up a lantern, and I would cool down in front of the neighbors in my boxers. The nice thing was this is normal for them. The people in this village wake up at different times, shower differently and fetch water different ways. In the end, they still need to do all of those things. I get to enjoy doing those same things in a convenient way everyday, but the community showed me that people everywhere are living inconveniently and in challenging situations on a daily basis. They live without a toilet, without air conditioning, without a ceiling fan and without constant flowing water.
I learned so much during my stay in the community, but I gained even more confidence in the project Wine To Water is doing. We are trying to make life better for people who have never had convenient access to water. We are providing water, but they are transforming my perspective on life.
- Pavan, Nepal IPM