By Deborah Hancox
A while ago, I heard about a well-meaning group from another land who visited a rural community in South Africa. They saw that the women were taking their laundry down to the river and would sit there for considerable lengths of time doing their washing. The visiting group quickly hatched and executed a plan to erect a water tower, and lay water pipes to the village houses to enable the women to do their washing in their own homes.
A while later, members of the group returned to find the water tower and associated piping in disrepair and the women once again doing their washing at the river. Surprised and somewhat annoyed, they asked a local woman what had happened. “Well, it’s like this…” she said. “We started using the piped water to do our washing in our own homes, but the women became lonely and frustrated. You see, when we go to the river together, and while doing our washing, we talk about our problems, our families, anything we are struggling with. So we decided to continue the practice of doing our washing together as this is a time when we listen to each other, and offer support.”