|Using empty water bottles, this display|
showed the water remaining in the dam.
When we arrived in the coastal city of Cape Town, we were told to do our best to conserve the water we used. Turn off the faucets. Take short showers. Reuse towels. The city dam was at 30% (now 27%) capacity, and due to the severe drought in the area. The city and suburbs were at level 6 water restrictions which impact the 3.75 million people that live there. The water levels were critically low, so low in fact that there is a “day zero” when the city is projected to run out of water completely. The date was set for April 22nd but has since been moved up to April 12th. On April 12th, unless they receive more rain, the taps will run dry and Cape Town will have no water.
I was blown away to hear this during our visit. Everywhere we went, we saw signs and posters encouraging water conservation. The farmers we met talked about their irrigation limits. Our hotel had closed the pool until further notice, and they encouraged us to turn off the shower while we put shampoo in our hair. Until I experienced Cape Town, I had never fully considered how grateful I was for the fresh, clean, abundant water here in Minnesota. Now every time I turn on a faucet, I remember to be grateful for this simple resource.
Though Cape Town is struggling in terms of water, they are not struggling in terms of gratitude. Even on the brink of a crisis, the people of Cape Town smile and appreciate the other things that they have. This was one of the most amazing aspects of my time in South Africa. Those that were struggling with the drought still found the things in their life worth being happy about. Often we have many things in our lives we don’t take the time to be grateful for. From the bigger things in our lives like families, friends, education, opportunities, health, water, and food, to the smaller things like a warm winter coat or the technology you are using to read this right now, we have so much to be grateful for. The next time we use water, whether to wash our hands or take a shower, we can think about those in Cape Town and take a moment to remember all the things that we are grateful for in our lives. When we are grateful for what we do have, we are usually happier, more satisfied with our lives, and less in want of what we don’t have. No matter our situation, we can go out of our way to have an attitude of gratitude each day.
Stationed beneath the rising sun,