Monday Morning Musings

Posted on May 10, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet




Flashback. Turning on the new water taps in Kanyakumari, India 2017


Do you ever have vivid flashbacks? Of course, you do, and they seem to come more frequently the older you get. Not to be confused with hot flashes. I know my demographic and most of my readers would like to forget that phase of their lives!

When my cable is working (Oh Lord, grant me patience dealing with technology issues in the north), I watch news, sports and one or two television programs. I quite like one of the series , Call the Midwife. “Are you serious, Len? Did your brain freeze the day you and your colleagues did a 7km walk when the temperature was -50?” Why would I be watching a show about midwifery?

Why not. I attended four births so it’s not like I’m going to be shocked by what I see.

The program is about a group of nurse midwives working in the east end of London in the late 1950s. It tells of the pressures of their day to day lives while trying to cope with the changes in the world around them. The show takes place at a Catholic convent. The nuns are nurses and there are also a handful of civilian nurses living and working with them. Every cast member is unique, and the writing is exquisite. A narrator’s voice cuts in from time to time, always with some insightful words. While I find all of the roles quite interesting, Sister Monica Jones is my favorite. She is old, slightly demented, and always in the middle of some mishap. She is the resident philosopher of Nonatus House, the name of the convent.

A recent episode of the show was the one that triggered a serious flashback. A group from the convent travelled to South Africa to do some charitable work. Living and working in a rural village they discovered that poor quality, and an almost non -existent, water supply had created a crisis. There was a source of clean water nearby but between the spring and the village stood an embittered landowner who refused to allow the village to have the water piped across his land. The logistics of circumnavigating his large acreage made a water project virtually impossible. At the end of the episode, he finally relented. The final scene showed a young polio victim wearing leg braces struggling to walk up to the new water tank to turn on the tap.

Bang! I was back in Kanykumari, India.

Most of us never think about water. We turn on our taps and we have a constant supply of clean, safe water. This is not the case for many people around the world including our own country. Poor water quality in the north seems to always make national news headlines. I am extremely fortunate to live in a community that has really good water. It comes from a nearby lake and is piped into the village’s water treatment plant before being transported to homes and businesses by tanker truck. During stormy weather, we are always conscious about our water consumption when delivery of water is not possible.

Many of you followed my every move during my six- month stay in India so the next part of my Musings is well known to you. I was living and volunteering with an order of Catholic Sisters. Twenty-five years ago, they built 50 homes on their property for many people suffering the scourge of leprosy. In addition to providing every manner of support for these people, including food, medical supplies, education and electricity, the Sisters supply water to the community. There are a handful of water taps scattered throughout the village. Every day of their lives, the residents have to line up at one of the pumps to get water for their daily needs including drinking water, water for bathing, cooking etc. Many of these folks have severe impairments including loss of vision, loss of limbs and disfigurement. Some have to literally crawl to get to the taps. This was a source of great frustration and fights over the years.

After visiting orphanages, schools and nursing homes with the Mother Superior, we concluded that the single greatest need was additional water supply to the leprosy community. Spoiler alert. This next part is NOT about me. I agreed to try and raise the money for the installation of taps to every home in the community. The “Fifty Taps” project was launched online. Initially, the estimates to complete the project was $5,000 and within days of starting the fundraiser, the amazing folks at the Wishing Wells Society from St. Andrews, just outside my hometown, stepped up and agreed to fund the project. As construction began, it became apparent that the estimates were on the low side but luckily many friends from all over Canada provided the additional money to complete the work.

All of the labour required to install a new water storage tank and the lines to people’s homes was of the manual variety. I watched as men dug the trenches using picks and shovels, often in temperatures in the mid -30s. Not only were they able to bring water to the doorsteps of every home but for those residents most severely affected by leprosy, the water was brought inside their homes. Besides providing easily accessible water, the biggest benefit was providing dignity.

I will never forget the day that the project finished, and it was time to turn on the taps. It was quite early in the morning and the unofficial “mayor” of the community went to every door to make sure that every person came to witness the event. The new water tank, of course, was on a slight rise and I watched as people struggled to make their way up the hill. A local priest came to bless the tank and the new water lines.

Long after I left India, the head Sister informed me that all fights had ceased instantly after people had their own water supply.

I have been involved in quite a few fundraising projects over my lifetime, but none have come close to providing the level of satisfaction as this one. My role was quite easy. A few pictures, a couple of videos of the work in progress, and a good internet connection was all it took to change the lives of fifty families.

India is struggling mightily as Covid rages through the country. If you would like to help out, please consider this GoFund me project. Our money goes a long way in India. And donation, large or small will make a big difference.



Have a great week.



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