Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Making Do

Our family has learned a little bit about making do and doing without over the last weeks.  The most obvious here is electricity.  They were been doing some work on the country's electrical grid over the last month and so there were extensive outages over a couple of weeks, often ten hours a day or so.  When the electricity is off that long, eventually the Bunda water tank runs empty and so there's no running water either, until the electricity is back on long enough for the pump to fill the tank again. 

When our electric cooker (what they call a stove here) doesn't work we use a propane tank with a single burner on top.  Emma likes using it to make French toast.

True confessions time: once I was cooking beans when the power went off.  They weren't close to done so we had French toast instead, and went to bed.  Eric woke in the wee hours to a peculiar smell: I'd forgotten to turn the burner off, and when the power came back on in the night the beans started cooking again, and eventually burned to such a mess that the pot had to be thrown out and the kitchen smelled for days.

We're lucky: one of the campus boreholes is less than 100 m from our house, so when the water isn't running we don't have to carry it far.  Emma enjoys working the pump.

These days it seems that they've finished whatever they were doing to the grid, and we're back to having only occasional power outages instead of daily.

Another thing we don't have is a washing machine.  When you wash by hand, you don't let the laundry pile up!  One of our Malawian friends, Emily, does washing for us three days a week and the other days we do it.  Here the kids are washing their school uniforms.

Of course, our efforts at "making do" pale in comparison to what we see going on around us.  Don't have a car?  Walk.  Don't have running water?  Carry buckets of water from the borehole, every single day.  Don't have a truck? Pile insanely heavy loads onto the bicycle.  Don't have shoes? Go barefoot.  Don't have a sprinkler?  Put a plastic bottle on the end of a hose and poke holes in it.  Don't have an ipod?  Play checkers with a piece of cardboard with squares drawn on, and bottle caps for game pieces.  Don't have a screen to sift sand for concrete?  Make one from a piece of sheet metal.  (Eric got a picture of that one, he thought it was so ingenious.  It was also easy to get a picture of, as nobody was around.  There are lots of things we'd love to get photos of, but feel it's kind of inappropriate to run around pointing cameras at people we don't know.)

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