I set my tent under a beautiful baobab tree, about 4 km away from the little village of :!Kukuarama, in the North-Eastern corner of the Kalahari desert, Africa. I always camp away from the village, so I don’t disturb their usual way of life, and I really enjoy being alone under the stars of the Kalahari, in the silence of the night.
In the early hours of the morning, as I am brushing my teeth at the water tank behind my Land Rover, I hear rustling in the bushes. A small group of San people are coming to visit. They sit down, close to my tent, giving me space to finish my morning routine. They watch me closely and they talk softly between themselves. I can hear the clicks of their Ju:Hoansi language, an ancient language that only a handful of people can understand it.
As I finish, the chief of the group greets me with their traditional greeting: the right hand on my left side of the chest and he says: “!Kleo” (Hello), “A:qukuache”? (How are you?) I respond: !Kaja, Nba (I am well, father).
As we sit down, he asks me what I was doing at the water tank with that little brush? “I was brushing my teeth”, I responded. “With 30 liters of water?” I didn’t understand at first what he meant, but it clicked after a short while that he was in shock at how much water I wasted brushing my teeth. A habit I was used to for as long I can remember, I never switched off the water while brushing.
He then invited me to stay with them in the village, for a week. He said: “load everything in the car and leave it at the edge of our village, and come live with us, as a San, for 1 week”.
For one week, I walked with them, sometimes 7-8 km in the bush, gathering small leaves with dew drops on them and rubbing them through my lips. We dug for large roots and shave them with a sharp edge of a stick to create a handful of juicy shavings which we squeezed into our mouths. For one week, I received the greatest lesson of my life, through the teachings of nature and of the ancient San tribe, who survive on 200 ml of water per day… and I brushed my teeth with enough water to feed them for a few days!!!
I was ashamed to call myself a civilized man at the end of this week. I understood the desperation of the human body to get the basic necessity of water and how much we are wasting in our world. I understood the meaning of thirst better than reading a thousand books about it. It was the last time I ever wasted water. And all my solar powered water systems which I installed ever since were the result of this incredible lesson that the chief taught me that day.
Water, the simplest and the most basic of human survival, yet the most important.
I can tell you that whether you are a religious person or not, regardless of your faith, beliefs, creed or philosophy, the greatest question is: “When you saw one of these little ones thirsty, did you give him/her a glass of water?”
Join me in providing clean, renewable water, powered by the sun, to thousands of thirsty people, whose children are dying daily because they drink tainted, diseased water. It is the greatest thing we can do together.