Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wells and Sewers

I went to my friend’s house located in the shanty town that surrounds Iquitos, Peru. The family get their water from a hand dug well in the back yard. The well is about four feet deep and located about 20 feet from the open sewer ditch. Their house is unique because they have their own well. Most of the neighbors dip their water from a rain run-off ditch before it drains into the sewer ditch. Most American never consider where their water comes from each day. Here people spend a lot of time collecting water and hoping it came from a clean source.

Each day the boys bring water from the well into the house in buckets and fill the large plastic barrels in the kitchen and bathroom. All the water they use for cooking, laundry, showering or flushing the toilet comes from these barrels. Their new indoor sewer system does have a toilet that drains back to the open ditch in the backyard.

If they want to shower they can stand on the tile floor drain and pour water over their heads with a smaller pail. The family is very clean and sometimes shower in the morning, afternoon and night. Since they need to ration their water they learned how to shower with less than one gallon of water from the barrel.

The house was built as part of the shanty town 20 years ago. The family has made some improvements like adding plaster walls and some concrete floors. They still have pieces of cardboard boxes lining the rafter walls. I noticed the boxes because they had our PAC Tour labels on them from tools shipments I sent my friends last year.

The mother washes all the family clothes in a shallow plastic basin. She uses a hand scrub brush and systematically scrubs every inch of clothing. They avoid using white fabric because it is difficult to wash.

Their clothes are hung on a rope in the backyard to dry. Everything dries slowly in the jungle humidity. The waste water is poured on the dirt floor of the house to keep down the dust and harden into a firm clay. Washing the family’s clothes takes about an hour everyday and five gallons of water. I am always amazed at how clean everyone looks without a good source of water.

END

4 Comments:

Anonymous Les said...

Hello Lon, I've been following your blog daily and love the updates. Peru sounds like an incredible place! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Les

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