Over the past months I’ve had the absolute joy of spending some quality time with the Kurian people who have warmly welcomed me, opened up their homes to me, cooked for me (or begged me to let them), and kindly answered my million strange questions about magi na choo (water and sanitation).

My biggest observation so far is this: water and sanitation is hard work here!

You might wonder like I did, “What’s the big deal- wash your hands often, boil your water.  Simple stuff; no problem. Right?” But, imagine that you have no toilet – only a pit in the backyard with four walls around it; and you have no sink, no running water, no bathtub and no tables.

Imagine that once you finish your business in the latrine, you have to come into the house, fill a basin with water from the cistern, grab a pitcher and some soap, lather up and then rinse (which isn’t the easiest thing to do one hand at a time unless you have another person around).  And you don’t own towels, so you just drip dry.

After all this work of going to the bathroom and cleaning yourself up afterwards, you’re thirsty. So, you have to walk to the spring for half hour holding a 5 gallon bucket, stand in a line to draw some water, scoop as much water as you can carry on your head into your bucket, and walk a half hour home.

You get the water home and it has all kinds of things floating it in, like dirt and even worms. So, you have to get that water into a kettle and over a fire to boil it to kill the gross stuff. But, now you have super hot water and that’s not too tasty, so you have to cool it down, which takes time. And after that, you still have a few floaties left, so you have to run it through a cloth to catch the gross stuff.  So, after the long walk, the boil, the cool and the cloth you have yourself a lukewarm (because you definitely don’t have a fridge) cup of water.  All that to fend off the myriad of waterborne diseases ready to plague you and your family if even one step is skipped.

So, today, when you wash your hands in your bathroom sink and get a cup of cold water from the tap, think of the generous, kind-hearted Kurian people who would cry tears of joy if they had such luxuries. Send up a quick prayer or thought for the Nuru team as we partner with the Kurian people of Nyametaburo to lift themselves out of the extreme poverty.