Leila Bousbaa was part of the the Step into the Gap programme in 2014/15 and travelled to Zimbabwe to meet CAFOD partners as part of the programme. This Lent Leila is remembering the water projects she visited.
I’ve been thinking a lot about water these past few days since hearing about CAFOD’s Lent water campaign. This time last year I witnessed first-hand the struggles that come with lack of water.
As part of the Step into the Gap programme I visited CAFOD partner projects in Zimbabwe. One visit that impacted me greatly was a water project in Lubu. Here I met a community at the top of a rocky crevasse and together we ventured down the slippery slopes. Going down was hard enough, little did I know about what hiking back up would entail. Before the water project was implemented, the women in the community would have to make this journey carrying 20 litres of water on their head, often with another five litres of water in each hand, and sometimes barefoot with a baby on their back. And all of this had to be done three times a day!
Find out how you can support water projects this Lent.
Then it was my turn to carry 20 litres. I remember the moment the bucket touched my head and I felt the weight of it, I remember realising I wouldn’t be able to find words to describe my feelings. Balancing the water, managing in the heat, and making sure I didn’t fall over the rocks, are only a few of the things rushing through my mind while I walked. Words can only impact a person so far, but actually feeling another person’s struggle and pain is something that will always stay with me.
Watch this Lent film about how a water pump has transformed a community in Uganda.
Coming back from anywhere where you have had a surreal experience is always going to be hard to articulate to others, and I knew this before leaving Zimbabwe. However, on my return I quickly slipped back into the norms of British culture and forgot the feelings I once felt carrying 20 liters on my head. Amongst friends I began to moan about walking five minutes downstairs to get a glass of water, I quickly realised how rapidly I fell back into my old ways. Forgetting that feeling of pain and struggle women would go through everyday in Zimbabwe to have a basic necessity like water. A year later it is still so easy to forget, but every day I try to remember all those I met in prayer.
Through a CAFOD funded solar powered pump, water is piped to the top of the rocky slope in Lubu, and the women no longer have to make this painful journey. The difference this has made to the community is huge. This Lent the government are match funding every pound donated to CAFOD’s water campaign, so it really is such an amazing opportunity to make a real splash to support more projects like one in Lubu.