I went with Tony to meet one of the sponsored children. We were chatting on the way, not exactly used to the scenes of poverty, but not as stricken by them as we were the first day. We pulled up to the collection of huts and were told that this was government land, that the twenty or so small structures filled with people were encroachments.
The land sloped down to a dried out creek bed, where a woman in a light sarong was washing herself with a bucketful of water. Soapy, dirty, green water. We met the child, a darling little toddler who was a little scared by our exuberance and photography. We didn’t stay long, we didn’t want to further disrupt their day. We crossed back through the creek bed, under the wobbly log bridge they must use during the rainy season when the water rises.
It was then that we saw the water well. Close to where the woman was washing, a hole in the ground ten feet wide and probably twelve feet deep. The water was filthy, full of debris. I couldn’t help but look around at the dozens of little children peeking out at us and worry about their physical safety in this environment.
This was the hardest site visit we witnessed, off the beaten path from where we had spent the rest of the day.
We climbed back up the hill towards the World Vision vehicle and I looked down the road at the row of shaky, squatting huts. Instinctively, I framed a photograph in my mind of the structures contrasted against the tall palm trees. I raised the camera and thought, “this would make a beautiful picture.”
Shocked, I lowered my hand.
This is not a beautiful picture.