She came in like a storm, dragging a motobike driver behind her.
Before I knew it she was off, talking in rapid fire Luo to Pamela and my translator for the day, Perpetua. She plopped down on the afghan covered couch, narrowly missing Pamela’s sleeping cat, before turning to me with a wide smile.
Margaret had arrived.
Born just a year after my mother, Margaret is just over 50, although to my Western eyes she looks much younger. She certainly has the energy of someone a decade or two younger. I imagine she would need that much energy to keep up with the three children living in her home. Two of her children are her own, but the third, Syprose, was her daughter’s child. But her daughter succumbed to AIDS over a decade ago, so Margaret took Syprose in at just a year old.
Unmarried, she makes her income by being the local expert in mud screeding, an unusual profession for a woman in this area. Whenever someone is constructing a traditional, mud house they call Margaret who comes in and gives the home a beautiful finish. She told me this with the largest smile.
Income is not Margaret’s primary concern. Syprose is.
They live just under a kilometer away from Pamela’s house. Between work, gardening, and taking care of her three children, the seasonal pump that Pamela uses is just too far away for her to travel. Walking over two kilometers several times a day simply takes too much time and energy to sustain. Instead, she travels up to 500 meters to access seasonal ponds of water that she shares with local cows and goats.
For the first time since she entered the house her smile faded. Next to her on the couch, Pamela’s cat stretched deeply, digging its claws into the afghan before hopping off the couch and trotting out the door.
Typhoid is Margaret’s biggest struggle. Her children frequently complain of stomach problems, but Syprose is particularly susceptible to typhoid. She contracts the disease at least once monthly, forcing them to make the journey into town to see the doctor. The financial strain alone is crippling, but at 13 years old Syprose cannot afford to keep missing school.
A wide smile broke out across Margaret’s face and she performed a little shimmy in her seat to her own beat.
“But soon,” she said, “soon there will be water near everybody!”
All of the women laughed and clapped and I laughed with them, unable to resist their infectious joy.
The extension of the water tower is almost complete, but we still have to finish the piping and build the kiosk that will dispense the water to the community.
These women need you. Bring clean water to Margaret and her granddaughter, Syprose. Bring hope, health, and opportunity to the community of Kadiju.