When I think of some of the things we did or experienced in the boarding house, I sometimes wonder how we survived without disease outbreaks.
I remember the periods we had no water; the rain just like yesterday’s heavy rain was welcomed with a grateful heart.
We opened the gutter slabs in the hostel and allowed the first stream of rain water to wash away any debris from the gutters. Once the stream of water was clear and we could see the bottom of the gutter clearly, we would begin to scoop the clear water with a bowl or cup into our buckets.
This water served for bath time and for garri ?
During these water scarcity periods, we sometimes had to walk miles to fetch water from a village stream which was actually a pond because it never flowed. It was stagnant water in a large mass. The villagers washed their clothing on the brink of the pond and scooped water out of the large mass to rinse the clothes. So there was a possibility that soapy water from the brink splashed into the larger body of water.
We fetched our water from the large mass of water. Did we care whether there were soap splashes in it? The road to the stream/pond was so steep that coming back, we had to be careful not to trip with the buckets on our heads. We would cut banana leaves and place it on the water in our buckets. The idea was that the leaves stopped the water from pouring backwards as we came down the steep road. Thinking about it now, I don’t know who came up with that logic but it definitely worked for us.
The first bucket of water was for the kitchen where we would write our names down. This signified that we had earned our dinner. We would then go back and fetch another which would be for personal use. I remember there were a few seniors who were particularly wicked and sent juniors to get them a bucket of water from the stream/pond. Such juniors ended up going three or four times on a journey which was full of torture.
The water we fetched always had tadpoles swimming in them but that did not stop us from using it to drink garri. Once your bucket of water is settled in the hostel, we scoop out all the tadpoles and leave the water to settle. We would then blow the top of the water with “mouth breeze” and viola, it becomes purified ?♀️ ; what were we thinking. Students that had alum were considered kings. They broke the alum into their buckets to purify the water.
It is difficult to understand how we never had typhoid or cholera outbreaks. We however lost a student to typhoid in my final year. It shook us and it made us realize that we were all exposed to death.
Water is definitely an important necessity of life.
Photo credit: https://www.aces.edu