The Weight of Water

CWS Indonesia | May 26, 2019

    Tanti fills one water container. Photo: CWS

    Rahmayanti, or Tanti as her friends call her, is much like any other 16-year-old girl. She enjoys spending time with her friends and studying. Yet, unlike most teenage girls, Tanti recently experienced something that most 16-year-olds couldn’t imagine: the consequences of a complex natural disaster when an earthquake that struck in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia in September 2018 destroyed Tanti’s home. “I remember hugging my mom and running from our house when the earthquake hit”. Then, Tanti says everything is a jumble of actions, reactions and feelings in her mind. One clear recollection from the first week or two is that was no water from the town’s water system, which was destroyed. “My aunt has a well in the village down the hill; but it dried up because so many people were using it”. So, with no water, Tanti’s daily work, like everyone else’s, became exhausting. Before the sun rose each day, Tanti woke up and took her first walk of the day to the closest water source to carry her two 5-liter jerry cans of water, which weigh 11 pounds each, the one kilometer back to the place the family was sheltering. Tanti repeated this chore another time or two each day so there was enough water to drink, cook and bathe.

    Tanti, and hundreds of women and girls like here, are one main reason CWS continues safe water delivery. More than six months after the earthquake and land liquefaction, access to clean water remains one of the biggest needs among still displaced as well as resettled families. For Tanti, the CWS support is felt daily. “I’m really happy”, she says; “Now, I only have to walk 10 meters to get water. Things have gotten easier [with water so close by], and I can wake up a little later and not feel too tired at school in the morning”. Tanti now uses some of her ‘found’ time to help her mother sell fish in the market. And, afternoons, she has more time to study and relax a bit – even though her life is still completely upended. It is important to CWS Indonesia relief team members to continue supporting Tanti’s community and others who are trying to rebuild their lives. When water is readily available, it lifts a big burden, so everyone can concentrate on other aspects of reshaping their lives.

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    Tanti outside the tent that was her home after the disaster. Photo: CWS

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