If you’re reading this in a country where you can safely drink directly from the tap I suggest you stop reading and go draw yourself a tall glass of water and drink up. Don’t feel guilty about it but feel free to express gratitude to a higher power: the local water company, the government regulatory agencies, God.
When I was growing up in Arizona we were taught in school to conserve water in that desert. I never took it very seriously. Long showers and playing with the garden hose were standard practices. I remember taking long drinks from the hose.
I’m thinking about water for two reasons. First, I just completed my Saturday morning ritual of filling 15 water cans in my apartment. Fortunately the pump is still working and I don’t have to hire people to haul water cans up and down the stairs. The only problem is that they turn the pump on for just minutes a day and it starts right as I leave for work. By Saturday I’m usually near the bottom of my supply and it’s a good feeling to replenish it. Life gets pretty hard fast without water.
The other reason I’m thinking about water is thanks to a visit to Dr. Adipepe this week. He owns and operates the clinic where our staff receive health care. Lately there have been more complaints than usual and it’s been too long since I’ve seen him so we paid a visit. He might just have the most personality of anyone in the city, maybe anyone I’ve ever met. He laughs uproariously at himself regularly in conversation and his eyes and teeth almost pop out of his face as he does. He’s usually pointing right at me when this happens. He was telling stories and talking up a storm and I started to feel bad about the patients waiting. Sitting behind him was the brand new ultrasound machine he is very proud of. I’m impressed by it and I hope it runs on variable voltage.
As I was expressing some of the staff concerns his reply was in the form of a question, “Have any of your staff died under my care?” “No, they haven’t.” “Well then I rest my case. What do you have to complain about?” I guess he has a point, of sorts. But I quickly replied, “Well doctor, that’s a basic level of customer service I suppose since nobody is dead, but these living staff members deserve a bit more than that don’t you think?”
Staff complain about negative results to Malaria tests when they believe that’s what they have. Dr. Adipepe’s contention is that it’s really more often Typhoid Fever from unsanitary water and people are not in the habit of boiling it. The mosquitoes and Malaria are certainly rampant but I can’t help but think that the doctor has a point. It’s an ongoing conflict that will likely continue and we’ll try to mediate it. As usual, reality probably lies somewhere between the positions people are taking. Unfortunately there aren’t many options for health care here. And then I think about the vast jungle surrounding our city and this place looks like the Mayo Clinic.
Having recently had Typhoid I can’t help but be compelled to pray for people across this nation and around the world who are suffering the pangs of severe illness but lack even the pocket change to get treatment. I think especially of the ones who got sick only because they drank a glass of water from the tap.