|Kathmandu, Nepal:She was alone, kneeling in the corner of what is called a dhunge-dhara or stone faucet. It is an area dug out where decades and even centuries ago water was collected, where washing was done. Over the past 1000 years they have been blocked in, stone steps put in and more recently pipes and faucets installed. It is a place where people go to collect water…except there is no water.
Nearby on a street stood a blue tanker truck. It was like the truck that deliveries propane gas to my home. They drive out of the city maybe a good hour and pick up several thousand gallons of water from what everyone hopes is decent water. They deliver to every home, restaurant, and sometimes to 5,000 liter plastic tanks sitting inside a dhunge where a tap has been installed and the kids line up, sometimes dozens at a time, hoping the water does not run out before they get their share.
Just a street over there was a shop with two and four liter plastic bottles with water for sale. Water can be purchased everywhere, because having it may come into your home intermittent at best, for an hour in the morning, and two days later you may have it come on in the middle of the night. As I looked over the Kathmandu valley almost every house had one or more huge plastic barrels on their roof tops.
Proshant and I walked through the historic palace area and then down this narrow one lane street. A Kubota like tractor with a small cart attached with two huge 1,000 liter plastic gallon drums were sitting. We watched as the guy maneuvered as close to the curb without hitting the old lady sitting on the sidewalk as a small car came down the narrow road. He unwound 200 feet of garden hose, dragging it through an alley, across the courtyard, and I stood fascinated as a guy on the flat three story roof dropped a rope. It was tied to the hose and hauled to the top where the water was pumped to gravity feed the three apartments
below. These guys are all over the city delivering water where there is
Aayush Bista, our Sawyer Representative in Nepal, gave me a newspaper article and statistics showing there are 300 registered water processing businesses delivering water in the city of Kathmandu. The Department of Food Technology last year reported 66% of the processed drinking water available in the market was contaminated with hazardous bacteria and chemicals.
The lady I took the picture of dipping water from a seeping corner of broken bricks had spent 90 minutes collecting 3.5 gallons of water and was still not done.She had smiled at me as I took her picture. She did not beg. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I had received from her a picture, a vision, a story and a purpose for what I do and I had not had the dignity to even give her two dollars for her gift. I hope I meet her in Heaven to thank her.