(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For links to previous posts you can go here)
Out the front of our house you had a clear view of the water tank where all the water for the collage was stored. It was piped from a spring up in the hills, and collected in the huge concrete tank.
There was a little bottle which floated on the water, a string was attached to it and came out the overflow pipe. A small weight on the end of the string told us where the water was up to. If the weight was low that meant the water level was high, so the bottle floated near the top. If the weight was near the roof of the tank it meant that the float was way down the bottom of the tank and therefore the water was almost out.
Mum had a habit of looking out the front door to check the weight level several times a day. She was often the first to know when the water started to drop; she would send one of us kids over to find Dad at his office so he could tell Yarael, our handy man.
The pipes which carried the water were laid on top of the ground. Sometimes someone would accidentally break them when gardening, sometimes someone would be angry with someone at the collage and they would cut the pipes, sometimes the pipes came apart because a tree fell down or a join broke.
When the water level was lower word would go around and everyone would conserve the water. The truck would set off to the river to collect drums full of water. The truck would they drive around the campus, when it came to your house you went out and handed up your buckets to the students and they handed them back full of water.
We used half a cup to brush our teeth, half a bucket to flush the toilet, half a basin to wash the dishes. We would have a shower with half a bucket of water. It’s amazing how little water you can use if it’s not there when you turn on the tap.
Yarael, would set off to walk the pipe line and fix the pipe. Hopefully he could fix it easily and the tank would fill up in a day or so. When the tank was full we turned on the taps and heard the groans and splutters of the air in the pipes. Then everything would go back to normal again