Jacques

    "My family and I have not had clean water in a while. We live here getting the water that we know is not clean. We have to boil it every time before using it. We had an old well not far from where we live. We were told not to use it anymore. When the swamp dries up during the dry season, I walk long distances to fetch the water. Too often, I have to walk back and forth carrying buckets of water on my head because it is too heavy for me to take with my hands. I need to help my mummy carry it up the hill where my whole family lives. My mummy loves to cook white rice with it. So I focus on the outcome, not the effort. And cannot wait to eat what she cooks. It is all just so delicious what she makes. 

    At times, my head hurts because of the heavy buckets I carry. I got some neck pain lately. It is because of the way I carry it. I am not as strong as mummy is. I recently turned seven, so I have a lot to work on. That is what my mummy keeps telling me. One day, my sister Laurette was bitten by a snake while following her to the swamp to fetch water. Fortunately, we could carry her to the local clinic and be looked at by a doctor. It still scares me to think I could have lost her – right there in front of me, all in a blink of an eye.

    You know, anything can happen when you walk those trails. There is forest all around. Animals I don't remember their names hang around here like they own the place. Sometimes I see the elderly going hunting and would like to follow them. Mummy does not allow me to do that, though. She says I am too young. There are days I don't sleep well. At times, I miss school or arrive late for it. I would love to study - to learn about things. I don't get the chance to do that. I feel like I never will. And that makes me very upset.

    On a normal day, my mummy wakes me up every early morning – besides on Sundays. We eat quickly. I walk with her to the swamp when it is not dry. I sometimes jump in the swamp for a bath. Then I put the water in the buckets I have carried with me. My mummy does the same. And we walk back. By the time I get home, I dress up for school and leave. It is always late. But I hardly miss school. So I guess I have to accept that my life works. I see it as I do something for my family so I can afford to go to school. It is like a trade-off. I give water. I will get educated."

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