She stood, legs slightly apart to steady herself, and leaned over the plastic bucket. Holding the pail (which was less than a quarter full) with one hand, she cupped water in her free hand and moved it swiftly and smoothly over its inside and outside walls.
There were several more basins and buckets at her feet that also needed to be cleaned. The water was poured to the next container and the careful process was repeated. In the few minutes that I sat waiting for Byron in the car, I watched this Tanzanian woman do her work quickly and thoroughly. What most impressed me was the small volume of water used.
This is a hallmark of how African women work. Neat homes, clean dishes and fresh clothes are all maintained with minimum amounts of water and no waste.
Is this because African women are more concerned about the global crisis of fresh water than I am? Not necessarily. It's often just the plain truth of water supply that makes these women such good stewards of every drop. Many of them carry their water, some for miles. Others share a common faucet in their neighborhood. Still others have, like I do, water piped into their homes. But the number of women who enjoy this luxury is far below the number of those who collect their water in other ways.
The lovely lady washing so carefully caught my eye because she reminded me that I'm trying to use less water as I live. Watching her, I thought about how much more water I would have used to do the same job. I thought about how many liters go down the drain at our house every day.
I'm trying to be a better steward for this precious resource. When I rinse dishes, I fill one of the cooking pots I used and rinse each plate in this little bucket. I throw the water, now full of dinner scraps, on our plants outside. These are small things I'm trying to do. I'm already famous for my quick showers. A few friends have called me "Lisa Lightning Shower." But I just want to be more aware and more responsible.
Water is so beautiful. I love to dive into it and feel the coolness all over me. I hope I'm learning to take better care of it.