Water and African Children Conversation

El was brushing his teeth when I filled up his cup with water. Immediately, he poured the water away, saying it was too little and wanted to fill up the cup himself. He rinsed one time, and wanted to pour the water away again. I told him off for wasting water. I told him how precious water is and we should save water.

cup and toothbrushHe did not seem to get the message. I said that he should be thankful we have clean water. I told him how we get water in our tap. We need the rain that goes to the reservoir, and the water gets filtered before coming to our taps through water pipes.

He still tried to pour the water away, so I told him that millions of African children did not have clean drinking water. Some of them have to walk a few kilometres to get water, and sometimes the water is muddy and they fall sick drinking them. Sometimes they might get diarrhoea, and sometimes they might get other diseases.

“Why do they have to drink muddy water?” he asked.

“There are no taps and clean drinking water,” I said.

It was time for another serious talk, just like the riots in Little India. We went in circles for a while, and I brought in weak governments, corrupt leaders, natural disasters and the works. They are poor because there are no jobs. There are no jobs because they are too poor to have factories, shops and offices. Why? Why? Why?

We then moved to the topic of starving children with bloated bellies. He put his green Ikea plastic cup down, wiped away the foam and ran off to get the iPad from the living room. He put it on my bed and typed in ‘african starving children’ into the search function, and clicked on images.

Taken aback by the pictures, he asked why they looked so scrawny. Their ribcages were showing, and they had sunken eyes. I explained the poor running of the countries, dictators who stole money from the country and continued living in the countries, and how the people were suffering.

He spotted a picture where a picture of a starving African child was superimposed over the African continent, and pointed out the connection. He was pretty used to identifying countries in this manner, as some of the iPad apps would combine the flags and the shape of the countries together.

Since he knew the African countries very well, he asked me which countries were poor. I tried to rattle off a few countries that I barely knew, and then remembered Ethiopia. Next, I searched for poorest countries, and out popped a list of 20 poorest countries in the world, with most of them in Africa, especially in the sub-Saharan areas. Zimbabwe, Liberia, Eritrea and Madagascar were some of the listed countries.

african child carrying water Photo by MarcLouwes

I wondered what he was thinking. He was probably making some lists in his head.  I hoped he had understood how lucky he was, and that he would not waste water. After that, he started drawing up a list again, of some African nations.

When I went to bathroom, I spotted a cup that was almost full. Guess it will take some time before the message sinks in.

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