Nothing has ever been done about the prevailing problems in Saraya. It is a frequent point of discussion, but infrequent point of action, until today.
I noticed the men around my age gathering yesterday in very intense discussion, which does not occur very often among the Malinkes, it is generally pretty calm around these parts. I heard that they were planning a march (greve-o, in Malinke-fied French) in the village for the next day to bring the issue to the people that matter, the Prefet, who represents the central government and the mayor. I did not think much of it because I sort of assumed that it would be exactly those 20 20-somethings who would march, because in my experience here, the people of Saraya are not the most politically active bunch.
I was so wrong. The next morning, the village shut down. None of the stores, restaurants, breakfast ladies, market ladies, nothing was open. There was a road block and no cars or trucks could get in or out, and starting at the end of the village, were hundreds of members of the community, men, women and children with signs and chants and symbolic empty buckets of water on their way to the Prefet. The group marched around the entire village until their arrival at the Prefet, which is a large secure building. They entered and explained to the Prefet (who, may I add is not from Saraya and is not Malinke, so his heart is surely not in Saraya) the problems that they want fixed. Of course, the police stood by as did the Red Cross volunteers with their stretcher, you never know.
The goal of this demonstration was not a vague message like ‘end corporate greed,’ it was a statement of clear, concrete basic needs of the community that are possible to achieve; access to clean water for all is a human right.
The demonstration was overall well organized, peaceful and I believe impactful. I was moved to see the community coming together and realizing that they deserve basic things in the village. So far, nothing has been said but my mom, Sadio Tigana says that she will not rest until the problem is fixed.
Coincidentally, at the end of this month, World Water day is coming up. I always noticed these days from working and studying global health, but never truly noticed the importance of awareness of these problems until I was forced to be aware after not washing my hair for a week, or just merely needing to spend time worrying about where I would get water for the day. Maybe my family and friends at home could try doing everything one day with just one bucket of water, or getting it from the hose outside instead of the tap and carrying it indoors(One benefit- no pushups needed when regularly carrying full water buckets).Or everyone could work on spreading the word and awareness that water problems are prevalent, not just in Saraya but all over Senegal and the developing world.