Wednesday afternoon we suddenly had no water. One minute water was flowing from the tap, the next it was not. Water at our house comes from a well and the pump was broken. No one would be able to replace it until morning.

It is surprising and disconcerting to realize how dependent we are on having water always available. I ate a peach and reached for the tap to rinse my sticky fingers, oops, I forgot. No water. No way to flush or shower on a steamy afternoon. No way to brush my teeth.

Our son Jason came to the rescue with a bucket holding three or four gallons of water, enough to get us through the night. We went out for dinner, made a cup of tea, brushed our teeth and by the time we got up in the morning, the repair man had arrived.

The brief few hours that we were without water reminded me of the times I worked in Haiti. There was a shower, cold water only, in the place where I stayed. We had an ample supply of water that was filtered through a system of purification and poured from a five gallon bucket. We were the lucky ones.

Community water pipe

Community water pipe


Girl carrying water

Girl carrying water

Across the street from our housing was a concrete wall. A pipe sticking out of it carried a stream of water. All day women and children lined up with buckets to get water for their families. Once the buckets were filled, they placed them on their heads to carry home.

Driving through the countryside we watched people bathing in irrigation ditches. Something as seemingly simple as having water always available was foreign to the Haitians living in the small villages and towns.

Maybe it is a good thing once in a while to have something we take for granted not be available. I don’t want to forget what a truly privileged life I lead.