Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink


There are hundreds (probably thousands) of differences between the way life is lived in Canada versus how it is lived in Tanzania.  It’s hard to list all the differences but the one I have noticed most so far (and is probably the most prevalent) is water.  As a Canadian, water has never se

emed like a precious commodity.  If I was thirsty, there were taps and fountains everywhere from which I could have a drink.  In Tanzania, the water that comes out of the taps is undrinkable – something that is a completely foreign concept to me.  I even have to use bottle water to brush my teeth.  Now the point that I am getting at here is that I can afford to buy bottled water, and it is relatively cheap (about 60 cents for a 1L bottle).  There is no shortage of water for me.  But there are a great deal of people living here in Tanzania that cannot afford to buy clean drinking water, or do not even have a plumbing system to access tap water.

When I traveled from Arusha to Dar, I had 11 hours on a bus to take in the sights of Africa.  I couldn’t even begin to count the number of huts that I passed, built from trees and packed mud with thatched or tin roofs.  The idea that these lopsided huts were all that these people had to call home made me think.  I have always had a roof over my head, food to eat, clean water to drink, and a feeling of security in my own home.  And yet still I complained that I did not have enough.  Even living in the Art in Tanzania house makes me grateful for what I have back home, for even though it is nice, the power goes out frequently, the water shuts off, and it is very, very warm here with little reprise of the strong sun.

As I watched the huts and people go by, I began to wonder about them: What did they think about? How did they live? How did they feel about their situation? And most importantly, were they aware that in countries like Canada and the US there are billions of people who have luxuries the Tanzanian people could hardly dream of, and still complain that their lives are too hard and they don’t have all of the things they need?

Most people here would be overjoyed to have a constant supply of fresh, clean, safe water, and yet it’s something that I had never given a second thought to.  How would we react if one day the water from our taps was unsafe to drink, and we could not afford to buy bottled water? Further still, what if we had no taps at all and had to draw our water from a well in the ground and carry it back to our house in a bucket every time we wanted some water?

Life is very different here.  As I watch the children from the nursery school run around and play, I hope that they will have enough food and water to get them through the day (and their life), but in Africa there is no way for that hope to be guaranteed.



2 thoughts on “Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

  1. When I was teaching recently some students came back from a 1 week trip in South America… their teachers told them that instead of feeling bad for the advantages they were given, they should appreciate them more. These trips not only help the people in other countries, but give Canadians and people from advantaged countries a more in-depth understanding of life.
    I’m excited to see you when you get back… I know this co-op will really change who you are and how you see the world. By the looks of some of these posts, I’m sure it already has 🙂 ❤


  2. I remember when you were fixing my water purifier and you were talking about a girl you had met who had said she would NEVER drink unpurified tapwater (which you and I were both were doing at the time because I’m a dolt and didn’t know how to work my filer) … in jest you said “I bet the kids in Africa wouldn’t mind some of this tap water”. – How poignant for this write up.

    I’m so excited for you, and so glad that being in a new place like Tanzania is inspiring so many provoking thoughts!


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