Of Donkeys and Thirst

It wasn’t even 10AM, yet temperatures were already close to 40°. At this point, we had been walking for over two hours and had run out of water. You were thirsty, I was thirsty. Arouna, the girls and Fassely were thirsty. The half-dozen kids following us were also thirsty. I considered purchasing Pure Water, the small plastic water bags sold at every street corner. But a quick glance at a lonely tree standing nearby, disfigured by multiple plastic bags flapping in the wind, reminded me that buying disposable water bags was not the right solution to our dilemma. Non-biodegradable plastic bags are the plague of African landscape!

I did notice the water-filled clay jugs that often sit in front of homesteads. One of the many beautiful Muslim customs is to have water always available in this way for thirsty passers-by.  Despite their inviting look, I stopped us from taking water there, knowing they might be contaminated by dirty hands.

You didn’t understand why you couldn’t drink from the jugs: “Mommy, I’m thiiirrrrrssssssty!!!” As I looked down on your gorgeous whiny face, and glanced toward Fassely and our thirsty friends, my mind wandered back to 2005, when I had walked for months among Tuareg and Fulani children of the Azawak. Children, whose entire daily chore was a desperate search for water. Now that, my child, was thirst! This painful memory of the people that we have devoted our lives to, to bring them clean and abundant water, reassured me about you. No, neither you nor I would die of thirst today. Our adventure continued!

photo: Cherifa, Arouna and Soriya on Zorro, Ariane (me), Hassana, and my Touareg father, Ahoudan