Water shortages, I expected this in Liberia, Not Jamaica.


In Liberia I knew the infrastructure was damaged during the war and had not been rebuilt. I knew that I would have to carry my water and hand-wash all my things.  I also knew I would be setting up to wash dishes outside and boiling water was a must.  In Jamaica I have running water, a water heater and a washing machine.  All but the running water were unexpected perks.   The last 3 weeks we have had a water shortage.  Throughout my service I have had limited water in 3 occasions.  In each case I had to wait no more than 3-4 days for the water to return to the pipe.

Where I live the water system was not built for such large homes or so many homes in the area.  To help with this issues the water is regulated by the government and sections are allowed water access for 24-48 hours at a time.  Most homes have large rhino tanks that are filled on the days the water is in the pipe.  The home I live in has 9 families or single persons living in it.  This means we use a ton of water so a week of no water can really make us struggle.  The thing here is that when the water runs out of specific tanks the pump is turned off to prevent it from burning out.  The pump is what puts the water into our faucets and toilets.  This means that for the last three weeks I have not been able to do laundry, wash my dishes appropriately, take an actual shower or flush my toilet and wash my hands normally.  I am quite over this problem!

hand washed laundry

This last week I woke up with a mild case of diarrhea.  I also woke up with a very sore throat.  I began treating both with hot tea, lemon and honey along with mild foods to help calm my bowels down.  My diarrhea got a little better the same day but my throat got progressively worse.  After 2 days of this I began to wonder if the bucket water might need more than a water filter and I broke out my steri-pen (a UV water pen that I bought for Liberia).  I finally called the doctor and my diarrhea came back.   The result is antibiotics and antihistamine along with ibuprofen.    I must pause here to address my doctor aversion.  I was raised not going to the dentist or the doctor.  Several times in my life I needed to go to the doctor and my parents did not go.  When I was 6 I split my forehead open on the fireplace.  I now have a “Harry Potter” scar as one of my co-workers once called it.  When I was 11 I got a pony that dropped onto my arm when we slipped and my arm was sprained badly.  That one we did go fairly early for.   When I was 10 I got a bad ear infection and my mother did not take me or even look at it until I was in tears from pain and my grandmother insisted I go.  I cannot actually remember a doctor visit on that case but I was in so much pain I could have blocked it out.  I have permanent problems with swimmer’s ear and I suspect that day something was seriously damaged in my ear, I also cannot produce ear wax like normal people.  My ears are always dry and itchy.   When I was 16 I was running from my cousins in the garden as they were throwing apples at me and I stepped in a hole which forced my chin onto my toes from my momentum.  I was sent to school the next day on crutches that were too small.  The other students mocked me and knocked me off the crutches several times that day.  By the time my parents finally took me in my ankle was so swollen they could not x-ray it.  PHysical therapy was my only option and it was too painful to do on my own.  I never quite healed right.

no water dishwashing

I still fail to go to the doctor immediately.  I typically wait a day or two, part of my history, I cannot really change it.  Even when my kids were hurt, I hesitated for a small while before going in.  So even now I hesitate, especially if the symptoms are familiar.  The sore throat was the only reason I even called in.  About 15 years ago I got a sore throat that I just treated at home.  It got so bad that my throat closed up.  My mouth was so dry that I could literally scrape a plastic like material off my tongue and inside my mouth.  No amount of water helped.  I finally went to the ER.  They prescribed some huge anti-biotic that I had no way to swallow.  My roommate was pissed.  She crushed up some ibuprofen into some water put them into a syringe and shot it down my throat.  Within hours my throat was better.   Because of that one time I do not wait more than 3 days with a sore throat.  I live alone, if my throat closes who would be there for me?  So I called the medical officer and got an over the phone prescription.  Now I am just tired, a side effect from the antihistamines I am sure.  I hope to be feeling better in the morning, my throat is still tender but no longer so scratchy and apparently I look like I feel better.

water storage tank

All of this because I have no pipe water?  Maybe, maybe not.  It could be stress and it could be a virus.  Whatever it is, the fact that I have a water shortage is still an issue.  What is magical about this shortage is that it only affects about 5 homes.  So no matter what they have done the water is not getting to us.  Either there is a broken pipe that cuts off where we are,  a valve is turned off, or there is not enough pressure to get it up to our homes, we are the end of the specific line.  The pressure is the one that keeps me focused.  The pressure is so high that the pipes are breaking almost every time the water is turned on in each section.  I wonder why this is happening?  I wonder if the water department is wondering the same thing?  I wonder if they are investigating this or just trying to band-aid it up and we will suffer all summer from lack of water?  I hope not and I hope that they figure it out before Wednesday when we are supposed to be getting water in the pipe next.

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