The Man who walked for the water
Life in Rural Kengkhar
There are certain parts about rural life in Malawi that can make a person wish they lived there forever. The warm sunshine. Wake up calls from the rooster. Basket weaving in the afternoon. The singing and dancing.
But there are also tedious tasks that come along with simply trying to survive — like carrying buckets of water from miles away to provide for your family. Watching loved ones suffer without proper medical care. Seeing your daughter or sister start carrying water at the age of eight, when her dream had always been to go to school.
One man took notice
Even at a young age, Dawa saw it all around him. And he refused to do nothing while his mother, wife and daughter shouldered the burden of this work, so Dawa started walking for water too.
This is Women’s Work
The unfortunate reality is that water is a woman’s job in Kengkhar and in the world. And it is tedious, exhausting and painful work. Women walk to locations outside their village— river beds and holes in the ground— and take turns collecting water using pans or ladles. It’s a brutally slow process that can take hours. Especially when they have to wait in line.
Young girls learn how to balance the weight of a water bucket, with a baby on their back, while boys their age are learning how to read in school. Women and girls are making this trip, with forty pounds of water on their shoulders, no less than five times each day.
A heart bigger than his body
Having learned about equality, Dawa decided that it wasn’t fair for his mother, wife and daughters to be responsible for all of this work. Despite his small bony frame, Dawa started walking for water so the women he cared about most wouldn’t have to.
“I walk for water because I believe in gender equality. There must be no discrimination between men and women, boys and girls in relation to chores.” says Dawa.
Dawa wasn’t trying to be a hero or take a stand; he just wanted to do the right thing. He wanted his mom and wife to have time to do more important things. He wanted his daughters to be able to go to school too.
And not only did he give time back to his family in the same way that clean water would, but he also set an example for the other men and boys in his community.