I'm Blessed with Water and Sometimes Power

I stuffed clothing into my washing machine. Mosquitos flew out. I moved the soap and ants scattered.


Sometimes the outdoor washing machine was covered with Gecko’s or moths or furry caterpillars.

Today I loaded the clothes and I added soap. I reached for the water handle. Sauda stopped me.

When Sauda, a housekeeper, joined our household her positive disposition brought light into our lives. Sometimes she seemed like sunshine.

 “Maji, hapana, mimi, switch.”

In our shared dialect of half English and half Swahili, she explained that our water tank, where our water comes from, was empty and I could not run the machine.

She said, “mimi, switch,” to explain that she had turned on the pump switch to transport water from the lower tank to the upper tank.

Lower tank holding most of the water.

Lower tank holding most of the water.

The switch is in the neighbors yard on this building.

The switch is in the neighbors yard on this building.

“Asante. Ally. Later.” I tried to tell her that Ally, the gardener, could have done it later.

She told me it was okay.

Thirty minutes later the upper tank began spewing water to the ground. Sauda slipped on sandals and flipped the switch.

Upper tank (one for my house and one for the neighbor).

Upper tank (one for my house and one for the neighbor).

The electricity for the neighborhood went out.

I rushed to her side. “Thank you. Asanta. (thank you).” I didn’t have the words in Swahili to tell her how much I appreciated her.

“If I had waited for Ally to come....hakuna maji, hakuna umeme,” I said in broken Swahili. I told her I wouldn’t have had water or power today If I had waited.

She grinned. Hakuna Shida (no problem).

Nothing seemed to be a problem for Sauda. She did her work with more care than I managed for my own house.

Daily power outages in a world run on interconnectivity means that charging phones, laptops, wireless speakers, wireless headphones or backup batteries is a gift instead of a privilege.

My mom recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I shrugged via Facetime. “I dunno. We obviously can’t receive packages here, but more than that, what do we need that is worth to struggle to ship it?”

“I know, it’s hard to want something with you living there,” she said.

Somehow two things had happened since Brad and I moved. One, we were about to face our first Christmas on a different continent from our families, and two, we were giving ourselves and them a window into the world.

These places were poor. The people I interacted with were often fighting for survival.

With Africa, at our doorstep and Tanzania, the earth beneath our home what could we possibly need?

I wanted, of course, solar powered everything, but I didn’t need it.

My conversations were about poverty, power outages, malaria scares, wildlife conservation and neighboring dictators.

Today, I celebrated the fact that running water would emerge from my pipes because of the thoughtfulness of Sauda.

I struggled to wrap my mind around the commercial concept of Christmas.

With Thanksgiving approaching tomorrow I couldn’t imagine a better time to say.

I’m thankful for the people that show me kindness. I’m thankful for water.