When life gives you rain, make a raincatcher

I rely on the elements a lot more here in Zambia than I ever did in America, a fact that I’m made all too acutely aware of now that it’s rainy season. I can write this blog post only because I stuck my solar panel outside for a few hours yesterday during a glorious patch of sunlight in an otherwise overcast afternoon, which allowed me to slowly inch my phone up to a 75% charge. Last night I watched in alarm as the battery for my solar charger flashed the “dead” signal — after a few consecutive days of cloudy skies and frequent bursts of rain, it was the only thing in my hut that was bone dry. No more regular evening sessions of my Random 90’s-00’s playlist (where else can you listen to Green Day, Outkast, Creed, and Natasha Bedingfield back-to-back-to-back?). And up until last week, I pumped all of my water by hand from a well drilled 150 feet into the ground.

Typically rain comes only in brief windows in the afternoon or evening, but on Friday we had our first all-day affair. It wasn’t a downpour, but it started at 7am and continued without letting up. I eyed the water falling from the sky hungrily. Then a lightbulb clicked on in my head. Channeling my inner MacGyver, I fashioned a tarp using a sheet of plastic, duct tape, a bent piece of wire, and some twine. I rigged the contraption up at a slope between my front porch and my insaka, anchored the middle of the lower side to a bucket underneath, and presto! Instant (albeit slow) source of ukutapa amenshi (drawing water).

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In five hours of light drizzle on Friday I collected 15 liters, enough water for two days’ worth of cooking, drinking, cleaning, and bathing. Then on Sunday, for good measure, I netted 20 more. I’m not going to be able to blog as frequently if it keeps raining like this, but at least I’ll save myself a few trips to the borehole and entertain some of the kids in my village in the process.

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5 thoughts on “When life gives you rain, make a raincatcher

  1. Matt, thank you so much for blogging about your experiences. It helps me understand what my nephew Luke Prater is experiencing while there with you. We miss him at home but this helps.
    Karen

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