Saturday, 2 April 2011

Day 246-Fetching Water

Traditionally regarded as a chore only for women in rural India, it is a task that is backbreaking, arduous and sometimes even dangerous. In the hostile desert of Rajasthan where the commodity is scarce, it often means tens of miles to the nearest well or the village pump under a torturous blanket of heat, dust and flies. 

For these women,  every dawn brings with it a long search for the most precious and crucial resource - water. An early start is inevitable as a day's needs for the whole family will mean several trips back and forth the source. 

Do you know that in the villages of the desert district of Banaskantha, women spend up to six hours a day bringing water from distant sources to their homes?  They carry up to 15 liters on their heads on each trip, often walking barefoot . 

It does  not matter whether you are young or old or even pregnant,   fulfilling this critical household needs means all the womenfolk in the family have to pull their weight. It is therefore not unusual for young girls to drop out of school just to help out with fetching water. 

Sadly, there will be no solace at the destination for our women. In a village where a single  pump services a community of 700,  it will mean a crowd all day, every day.

Another day of standing in  a long queue with hundreds of others waiting for their turn. Will it past midnight again today? 

I am afraid so for why should today be any different from all the days in the past 20 years?  

 We all know that without water, nothing will grow, the cattle will perish and eventually so will the family. 


our women 


"Must the drudgery continue?" 


Before Bash

Surprisingly this trip to India, I  found only 2 items for my doll's houses. As far as I am concerned, though, they are both precious minis. This  water pump is my treasure from Amber Fort , Jaipur , bought from one of the many hawking their wares at the exit of the Fort.  

After Bash 

Of course, I was warned by our guide before we got to the Fort AGAINST  buying anything from these people because their wares are often not worth the price and that identical ones can be bought for way less in the shops at the city.


All my caution was however, thrown to the winds when I saw this old style water pump. I tried to play it cool and walked away to my girlfriend,  whispering to her "OMG! Did you see that? It's perfect for my tribal house!" 

Fafa fetching water while I photograph

There must have been something in my eyes that quickly prompted the seller to start pumping (the gadget of course).

When  water flowed from the tap, my knees went weak and I knew then that all was lost. 

Tell me , the most resolute amongst you, will you be able to resist a working miniature pump that can give you water, is to scale and exactly what your tribal house needs so that your dolls  will no longer have to carry their heavy brass pots and walk miles and miles to fetch water ? I don't think so. Even when it cost a whopping INR100 each. That's why my friend decided that she had to get one for her cats as well. 

I bashed the water pump right after work today and finished everything in less than an hour so that I could take pictures before sundown. I then went for a run and the idea that I should have iconic pictures of  Indian women fetching water came to me during that run. I came home already dark at 8pm  but went ahead with the photographs anyway. I then decided to find out more about these women. The idea  to focus on their plight came only after I started typing. When I finished, a thought struck me. In many ways, some of us are not so different from these women. 

Everything in this post (except the postscript) is based on the material I have found. If you follow through the link provided, it will bring you to the relevant source. You will be heartened to know from those reports that the Banaskantha women had started to do something to better their lives. Defying conventions , these women set up unions to push for changes. They acquired knowledge about maps, measurements and topography so that they could contribute to local water committees. Now more new wells are built and old ones recharged. 

I salute these women. 


Jollie said...

For sure salute to these woman!
And the waterpump you bought is stunning!!! I would have done the same... for sure! ;)

Hugs Jollie

GB said...

Which is why microfinance works and is important. If the women have money, they have power. The power to bring about change. Otherwise their voices are just lost in the cacophony of 1 billion+ other voices. Sad, but true.

Janice said...

Gosh, how lucky we are to have water at the turn of a tap. A very thought provoking post and finishing with a super mini.

I wouldn't have been able to resist but being a cowardy custard I would have sent my husband to buy it!!

Love the bashing but I thought the brass pretty cool too.

rosanna said...

The pump was really worth buying, I couldn't resist to it as well. You did your usual brilliant job bashing it, is there anything you cannot bash?
I totally agree with GB, money means power and power means change, it's incredible how far these women look but actually, as you pointed out, are we so much different?
Have a nice day , it's small hours at your home, will yo go to bed now. See you soon, Rosanna
PS I'm still doing my homework; the most difficult I have ever ha.

Drora's minimundo said...

The power of life giving water! I believe it was the same here with our Beduin tribes. Women were always in charge of fetching water from the wells. Good purchase worth any price. I always buy things I like first time I see them. There is never getting back and sometimes you cannot find them in other places although the quide said you could.

Dark Squirrel Victoria said...

Yes how lucky we are to be able to turn on a water tap, have safe beds to sleep in a plenty to eat. I can imagine your excitement seeing the little pump pumping water. You did an amazing job on the bash and putting together the shoot.

Victoria ♥

BiWuBär said...

Water is so essential and so natural to us - thank you for reminding us how privileged we are to have it at hand whenever we need it... And a very big salute to these brave women - and another one to you for this - as usual - wonderful post. Oh, and I wouldn't have the strength to resist that amazing pump either. I love the "bash" you did to it...


No soy Job said...

Un post fantástico con unas fotografías maravillosas.

Daydreamer said...

Sans! That little WORKING pump is just TO DIE FOR!!!! I would have bought it without even pretending to walk away! And your brass pots are Beautiful too! and your photos with your dolls are very well done... beautiful and so realistic.... even if it is night already!... But that pump is AMAZING! Of course you HAD to bash it!! No-one would recognize a new and shiny pump.... they would think it a fancy sculpture instead!
I remember in my farm girl days as a teenager we had to carry water to our cattle in the winter.... each cow would drink two or three buckets full.... and there were twenty cows and we watered them twice a day....we only had to carry the buckets from the house to the barn... but it took more than an hour for two of us to complete the chore! I Still have the muscles from hefting those pails!! In the summer we ran a hose out to the trough... but in the winter it would freeze solid!
I am glad to hear the women are starting to improve their conditions!
Those of us who have plenty of water just don't understand how precious it is.....
Beautiful post! :)

Daydreamer said...

I forgot to say that the photo I like best is the last one.... in your yard where the dolls are so tiny they are almost missed unless you enlarge the photo... :)

Snowfern said...

i wouldn't be able to resist either :O

miniaturist59 said...

That water pump is truly a treasure, Susan!! Love it!! I love the entire scene with the women going up and down the "mountain" carrying the tiny vessels.

Pubdoll said...

Wonderful and very thoughtprovoking post Sans! Here we almost never have to think about too little water, since it's raining just sufficiently for all our needs, both for drinking and for electricty, (water fall power) we complain instead of too little sun! But I know what I would prefer. So good those women now get more wells!
Your scene is very well made, so realistic with all the rocks and plants! And how amazing is the water pump, and it's even woking! If I were you, I wouldn't have been able to mask my excitement over it, so I think the seller could have asked whatever price he wanted from me :-)
And the bashing is great as always, you have turned bashing into an artform!

My Realitty said...

Sans, here to in Northern California our resevoirs are overflowing due to extreme amounts of rain this year. Water is so beautiful and mercurial. I never tak it for granted. CM

Kikka said...

Yes. The Lifegiving Water is really Important to everybody.

The little working pump is amazing, I can hardly believe you first walked away...(although pretended) :)
And ; The "blash" made it look even better

malu2 said...

Sans, me gustan muchísimo tus relatos,tus fotos y tu viaje,seguire visitandote es muy interesante.
He recibido tu mail!!!!!!!!Besos.

The Old Maid said...

A working miniature pomp? WOW! I wouldn't be resisting long I am afrraid;D Great find Sans! And of course again great story:) The water problem is not only familiar to India. There are a lot of places like this in Africa for instance and it is always mostly women and children who carry the liquid of life home.

Sans! said...

You know Jollie, I met my friend today , the one who bought one these pumps for her cats (she has 18 f them) and I was just telling her how pleased I was with my pump. She made a face and told me none of her cats wanted it! LOL!

Being a cat lover yourself, wouldn't you have known that already?

Sans! said...

Gagan, I totally agree with you. I am a big fan of Mohammed Yunus who started the Grameen bank for microfinancing to women (only) in Bangladesh. His book is such a good read. The financing is to women only in groups of 5 . Really fascinating. I have a friend who was an auditor with the USAid and audited the bank before. With very low default rate, he thought it one of the most successful banks :).

For the women in Banakanstha, the report said that the group who was pushing for these changes, SEWA encouraged women to join local water committees, called pani samities. SEWA had already organized women into about 50 business-development groups – with activities from embroidery to timber and rainwater harvesting – to help them earn more money.

So really, it is because after the women acquired economic security that they had the confidence to demand say in areas affecting their lives like water system.

Sans! said...

Janice, I agree with you on the brass. Once the shiny goes out of the brass and if I had allowed it to age with time, it will still make a very realistic looking old style hand pump. :)

Rosamargarita said...

La historia sobre esas mujeres es atroz, es una realidad que debemos conocer.
Tus miniaturas siempre tienen sensibilidad.
Un fuerte abrazo

Fiver said...

WHOA!!! That's real water flowing out of that little pump??!!! I thought it was fake water made from clear resin. That is too cool!
Good thing I don't live back in those days because I'm sure me and my animals and family would all die of dehydration, LOL.

Sans! said...

Rosanna, I love my working pump. If not for the fact that I packed my yoga mat and loads of other things and my luggage was at bursting point, I would have bought more. Also the guide told us to get into the car 1st before we start the negotiations so I was shopping in the car ! :) Anyway, it took him a while to show me the ones that work well. :) (Cos it's better you test every piece that you buy.) :)

Ro, I finally slept at 5am , woke up at 7am to go to Yuch's yoga class :). But last night , I slept a full 8 hours. :) Even then , I couldn't complete my usual Sunday run . It's the heat , my aching body from the 2 hour yoga and I was so exhausted :). But I am glad that I worked on my minis. Running, yoga etc etc may be good for me but none of these activities made me happy the way working with minis do. :)

Keep working at the homework. Take your time. By the way, I am still working on mine as well :)

Margriet said...

Thank you for your wonderful story....It's difficult to imagine what a life those women have.

Love your waterpump....well...I do after you bashed it :-) And that it really pumps water is so wonderful....I;m glad you didn't listen to your guide ;-)

Sans! said...

Drora, do you know I tried to cross over to Israel from Jordan (Allenby/ King Hussein Bridge) in 1996? LOL. I was travelling with a Malaysian . They would have given me the visa but not my companion. We had to get off the bus , escorted, to return to Jordan after crossing the bridge :). The next day, we decided to try and cross from Jordan to Syria and this time , after waiting at the custom's office for 3 hours, they said they would have given my friend the visa but not me ! LOL! We went back to Syria the next year :).

I remembered when we were in Syria, we travelled very far just to see the Euphrates river. On our way there, I saw a small group of Bedouins herding. That was one of the most unforgettable experience I have ever had because instantly, I felt like I was back in Biblical time. The scene is still very vivid in my mind.

Living in such a rapidly changing country like Singapore, I really love cultures that have withstood time. It's probably a reaction to my own circumstances because I am not sure if I can live like the Bedouins or the ladies in India.

By the way, you are absolutely right about just buying what you like at 1st glance. Because it did happen to me in my last trip to India. A woman was selling her handmade pecking bird toy but again, because of the warning, I walked away. Of course, I didn't find it anymore as the toy was handmade probably by her family or her. :)

Sans! said...

Victoria, I had a lot of fun :). I love bashing :) It is a very good way of making a unique item :).

I had so much fun that evening with my dolls :).

Sans! said...

Birgit, when I was about 6 years old, Singapore launched a water is precious campaign. Since then and every moment, we are reminded of how important water is and how we must always save water. Singapore relies on treaties with Malaysia and Indonesia for water supply. But we are slowly starting to invest in desalination research. And the latest is recycled/ reclaimed water where sewerage water are processed, channeled back to the sea, filtrated further and then be recycled again even for drinking. They call it NEWater :):). Most of us received a free bottle the year it was launched. I have to confess I didn't drink mine ..hehe :).

Thank you, my dear for your compliment :)

Sans! said...

Muchas Gracias , No soy Job / Kike.

I am so glad you are here and that I have visited you! Just saw your windblown curtains and I must absolutely try it! :)

Sans! said...

Betsy, ;):) THANK YOU! :) Do you really think it realistic? I am very happy to hear that :):) but I know what you are probably saying also. Perhaps the realism is in the portrayal of the subject matter, not so much that the whole scene look like real people are carrying the water :).

I know some mini lovers don't use dolls because they take away the realism, which is true. But complete realism is not my choice , nor my strength. :) Like you, I love dolls and how they can tell stories :).

I am so impressed, Bets that you lived and grew up in a farm. I think women who worked with their hands are really admirable. Give me a pair of hardworking , earthy hands any day. I rather them than the manicured smooth ones. (But I will be lying if I tell you I don't use lotion or paint my nails once in a while ..tehe :) although I do prefer my nails and hands paint smeared and chipped from bashing :):).

Sans! said...

I like that one too, Bets :):).

Sans! said...

Hmm Cindy, you will probably want to borrow mine, reverse engineer and understand the physics and then build a more precise one yourself :). This one is too too "raw" for you :). It is probably made from a mould but the putting together is handmade and not so refined. It will do great for a village pump in India where most things looked like they were bashed.See the following links:

Sans! said...

Yo Kiva! Thanks you Babe! :)

Love my girls. :) They are the 1st set of dolls I bought, meant to be dancing girls at the palace. I have been meaning to bash them or at least make them wear different clothes :). Soon....:)

Good luck in Chicago! I want to know everything! :):) and see loads of pics :)

Sans! said...

Ok, going to watch Suckerpunch @-@ now. Be back lates :):).

Snowfern said...

Sans....stop poking fun at me @^@ XD XD XD for what you paid for it...i think it's fricking awesome....can i play with it when i go over next time??!?!??? i promise i won't take it apart.......but i'll definitely peek underneath hahahaha

Sans! said...

Hehe,Cindy, I thought I can get away with it by saying the price in Indian Rupees :):).

Of course I will show it off when you are here. This is like a tap in Queen Mary's Dollhouse. :)

Sans! said...

Shoot, Cinds, forgot to add. I feel like getting a new tat. Need a good recommendation . Or better still, do you want one too? Email me if you have someone in mind :).

I was thinking about it in my run today :)

Sans! said...

Thank you , Helene ...muahhhhhhhhhhhs! You are always so good with the encouragement :).As I was playing with the scene, I was wondering if my backyard has now turned into another one of my dollhouses or diorama.

So I was just saying that I went to watch Sucker Punch today. I didn't even know what that term meant until my friend whom I went to watch the movie with said it is a type of punch or a blow. :)
Anyhoo, I love it and will strongly recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, CGI and epic high budget visual feasts . There are 2 quotes in the movie that made me think of this post :

"If you don't stand for anything, you'll fall for everything"

"For those who fight for it, there is a flavour in life the sheltered will never know".

For the first time in my life, I could actually quote the lines in a movie..hahaha.

dale's dreams said...

You always convey so much in your postings. You always educate, have beautiful photos and wonderful stories. :)

It may sound trite, but, while I was reading this, all I could think of was, I'd be moving to where the water is! lol ;)

Glad they are making progess and unionizing.

All your pretty ladies showed up for the post. :)

I would want that water pump too, and I'm not suprised you bashed it so well to fit in with your tribal theme.

So cool that it really works! :)

Snowfern said...

wahhhh i also want a new tat!!! i will have to give it more thought though, i used to go to that johnny two thumbs guy, Richard, but i donno where he's shifted his operations to now....:-/ email details! :D

Ascension said...

Sans eres la mejor!!!
Tu blog ademas de grandes reportajes de investigacion como este del agua y de las mujeres que trabajan tan duramente para conseguirla (gracias por el enlace), de unas preciosas fotografias....ahora con banda sonora especial para cada post.
Esta vez he ido a mirar a ver si me habia dejado el grifo abierto jejejejeje
Y sobre la compra de la bomba de agua, yo la hubiese comprado costase lo que costase, es un verdadero tesoro y despues de haberla "tuneado" tu todavia es mucho mas preciosa.
Gracias por hacer que nos demos cuenta de que las cosas mas pequeñas(como abrir un grifo), nunca se aprecian lo suficiente.
besitos ascension

Kim said...

what an amazing find- although I much prefer the pump after you have worked your magic Sans. Gorgeous pictures again!! You know, I think of how lucky we are compared to some people all of the time--especially in the winter. While I am complaining of the cold I try to think of the first people to live in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota in a shack that probably did not even have insulation and families that depended on what they could store for food to last the winter. It is so easy to forget our luxuries, isn't it? I am glad things are changing for these women-sometimes progress is a wonderful thing.

Sans! said...

Carol (CM) when I was in Phool Chatti, I was told that the Ganges floods happened annually between June-Sept ! In one of our meditation walks, we saw bits of debris hung on branches of tall trees . We found out that those were left behind after floods :).

Never underestimate the power of water indeed :)!

Sans! said...

Thank you Kikka! As you can see, I didn't do a good job of pretending :).

Sans! said...

Jeje, Luisa María :):). Muchas gracias Por tu Visita:):). Siempre estoy feliz de verte aquí:).

Sans! said...

Ewa, I remember when I was in Spain, possibly the South and a long time ago, there were water closure hours.

And yes Africa! They have made art and poetry out of African women carrying water jugs with their babies as well.:)

They say the human race will not be fighting over oil but water in the very near future. Either that, we will have to find a substitute for water to help sustain our growth. Maybe we will all start to look like shriveled, skinny, aliens :)

Sans! said...

Rosamagarita :)muchas gracias por tu alabanzas. La vida no es fácil para estas mujeres. A menudo deseo que puedo tener mis sobrinas a estos lugares para que puedan darse cuenta de lo afortunados que son. Podría haber sido cualquiera de nosotros.


Sans! said...

Kristy, I am still learning how to make water with resin . I used glue to make the water droplets around the rim of the brass pot . :) This Japanese glue I bought from the S$2 shop is quite effective. This is a working pump and until it really rust beyond use, I will use real water. After that, maybe I can make fake ones :).

Piikko said...

Sans, I can't believe!:O Is this water pump really real? It is amazing! And so are all your pictures♥ -You are so right about the water. We are lucky to have thousands of lakes here in Finland, but if water pipes breaks we are in trouble immediately. We understand the value of the water just after we have lost it. Unfortunately that is the way how life goes. Sometimes is good to stop and think what we have got:)
Hugs, piikko

Sans! said...

I am glad I didn't listen to my guide too, Margriet ;p. I did see the same pump later in a shop but could not be bothered to ask for the price :).

Sans! said...

Dale dear, thank you for your wonderful compliments :). I am thinking to start dressing my ladies next :). I picture them in a queue outside the tribal house where the pump is.

Funny you should mention moving near the water source. I found this poignant picture of a group of street vendors in Calcutta near a water source, ie a pump similar to mine.

Food for thought...

Sans! said...

Cindy, 2 thumbs is still in Scotts Road. I am so ready! Let me know when you are.

Sans! said...

Jejejejejejeje, Ascensión! ¿De verdad ir a ver el grifo? Usted se acaba de hacerme reír! :)Y todos los días ahora, puedo comprobar si mi bomba sigue funcionando! :)

Estoy feliz de que mis historias el amor, la Ascensión. Ustedes, mis queridos, son los mejores:)


Sans! said...

Kim, thank you :)!

My heart goes out to these women. While reading about the subject, I also found a news article on how a girl of 5 had drowned in a pond while fetching water. Her sister who jumped in to try and save her was seriously injured. I mean, these accidents happened all the time, anywhere in the world . But I just felt sad thinking how my sister would never allow my 5 year old nieces or nephew to do any chore around the house :).

How thankful I am that I am who I am. I may not be a Maharani or a drop dead gorgeous model but then again I am also not one of these village women who had to fetch water and walk tens of miles everyday. :)

Sans! said...

Ello Pikko :). How right you are :)! I get a little irritated sometimes when I see people wasting water by running the tap when they brush their teeth :).

In the ashram, we made a pact not to flush the toilet after we pee (healthy living of drinking mostly water made it tolerable) because water is so scarce there. ;)

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