I would like to introduce myself as a guest writer to this column. My name is Jackie and, next Monday, I will have been married to Mark for 35 years.
I know if you have been reading this column for a while you may know all about me already, I just hope you don’t believe everything you read.
You may be wondering how we got involved with global poverty issues, particularly unsafe water. I was very fortunate to have been dragged around the world on family vacations while growing up, with friends and family spread across the globe.
An appreciation of, and an interest in, different cultures was nurtured and has never relented. If I come across a National Geographic magazine in a waiting room somewhere, I always turn to the “people’ stories first.
My goal in tackling the writing of a column is to share my experiences, try to understand what I have learned and to try and pass on some of the joy I have discovered helping others.
Over the next few weeks, I would like to describe some of the trips we have been fortunate enough to undertake, discuss some of the issues by digging into the Sustainable Development Goals and do some book reviews as we undertake a learning adventure together.
Finally, we hope to encourage other local friends of ours who work in the field to weigh in with their stories. I know they have some great tales to tell.
So, let’s start where it all began, in Africa. When I was eight, we went to South Africa for a month to visit my uncle and aunt. The game parks were incredible:
- Getting up at dawn to catch site of the rare wild dogs
- Having deadly snakes slither under the car
- Watching crocodile eyes slowly rise up out of a water hole to stare right at me as we crossed a creek.
The most vivid wildlife memory is being chased back to my hut by a warthog I interrupted from tipping over the garbage cans.
I also remember apartheid. My Dad was very disturbed about having to use a different door to enter a post office. It was all the same room once through the door, so it seemed completely ludicrous to us, and we wanted to be rebels, but wisely thought we had better not.
Most significantly perhaps, we borrowed a VW Combi and while we were many miles from the city, I got very sick from drinking the water. Fortunately, we had the resources to drive back to base and get the required medicine from the family doctor.
Many years later, Mark was travelling in exactly the same region near Durban when he visited a village where 300 children had died from an outbreak of diarrhea.
He was horrified this could happen in a fairly developed country and didn’t seem unusual to anyone. It would cause outrage here. Yet, parents love their children just as much in Africa.
This sparked our focus on safe water and he came home determined to do what we could to make a difference.
Come back next week to see how we tried to do just that…
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.