Cape Town’s Water Crisis & H2O for Life

Hello to those reading from UCONN’s School of Nursing page as well as those who are BRAVE members! I’m Brittany Kenyon, a senior nursing student at the University of Connecticut (as well as a former intern and current member of BRAVE) and I am currently studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

My 17 other peers and I arrived in Cape Town over 8 weeks ago and have had the opportunity to embark on unforgettable adventures- including this past weekend at Skukuza, a camp within Kruger National Park! Going on game drives, having braais every night (the South African term for Barbeque), and being able to relax mid-semester was awesome. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our Pediatrics Professor, Nichole, but we are lucky enough to have an equally as wonderful Maternity Professor, Lisa-Marie. This morning before our clinical site tour, Lisa-Marie had some news for us…our house had been fined for going over our water limit for the month. Though we all knew Cape Town was in a severe drought (there are signs in the airport, billboards, and messages in bathrooms all over Cape Town!) and were more cautious about our water usage here, it did not seem as serious until Lisa-Marie mentioned that they could put a tap on our water that will stop either per day or per month once we reach our restriction. It’s estimated that the City of Cape Town’s supply of municipal water will run out by this coming March but water restrictions have been in place since 2005 and progressively made more intense. Now, as privileged tourists, we are feeling the effects. I’m disappointed in myself for not being as considerate as I should have been and this situation makes me realize that oftentimes, we don’t realize the severity or problems at hand until it directly impacts us. Immediately, our group brainstormed ways to save water…not flushing the toilet as often, not running the water while brushing our teeth, taking 2-4 minute showers, turning off the water while we shave, and doing laundry less frequently and on a faster/water-conscious setting. With 14 of us living in one house, it can get hectic but we are determined to play our part for our last two months in South Africa.


 

This made me immediately think about H2O for life. H2O for Life links a school or organization in the States to a school in a developing nation to fund a water project and teach about the global water crisis.  You can learn more about it here: https://www.h2oforlifeschools.org/page/about. In the past, BRAVE has been involved with H2O for Life and funded rainwater catchment systems to schools in Uganda, and members are looking to fund another. In the Spring of 2015, a group of BRAVE members, community members, and UConn students raised over 3000 dollars from walking laps around the E.O. Smith track and getting donors to pledge a certain amount for each lap completed. Receiving the photos of the completed work and knowing that these children won’t have to walk many kilometers just to get clean drinking water is so rewarding.

 

While plans are not completely set for this coming spring, you can look out for more event details on the BRAVE website, http://www.girlsarebrave.org. Not only is it a humbling experience, but it also helps to check our privilege for almost always having unlimited clean water at our fingertips.  If you’re so inclined, you can even pledge to raise that money with a group or school you are a part of!

 

Though I have our BRAVE H2O for Life Fundraiser to look forward to when I get home, it’s time to buckle down and do what we have to do here in Cape Town. Anyone can take steps to help save water and the planet, and remember….if it’s yellow, let it mellow!

 

Meaghan Davis