I wrote a blog post earlier this year about these tenacious Catholic nuns in my old Peace Corps village in the Congo, Kamponde, who were helping a water engineer dig his trenches to install piping for potable water in the village. With a grant from the African Development Bank, Evariste was installing water towers and underground pumps in villages across the Kasai. I was thrilled, until I learned on my last day in the village that the men had gone on strike because they weren't getting paid to help install the PVC piping and learn how to run and fix the water pump once Evariste was gone.
Evariste had thrown up his hands and left Kamponde with me, hitching a ride back up to the city of Kananga and vowing that he was done with this place where the men would not volunteer their time to bring the first running water they'd had in the village since the colonial days of the Belgian Congo.
Needless to say, I was also disappointed. According to this new report by K4D, girls spend an average of three hours a day int eh Democratic Republic of the Congo doing chores, including walking miles each day to gather firewood and water for cooking and bathing. It's little wonder that many girls drop out after primary school, forced to help their parents in the fields. If there was water in the village — maybe the girls could spend more time in school
There's aren't many happy endings in the DRC, but this story has one. It's especially heartening during the COVID-19 pandemic, when washing hands is so key.