Act 3 Scene 1

Water, Water, Everywhere!


The scene begins on a bright and warm, late spring day at the Mandela Park WaSH facility in Langrug. The scene also includes the area outside the facility, and the adjacent storage bungalow.

The scene then shifts to one of the main roads in Langrug, the one leading into town. It begins as a dirt road, lined with various shacks. As it gets closer to town, the road becomes paved, and the structures on either side shift primarily from shacks to sturdier structures.

The scene then moves to Build-It, the local branch of a popular construction chain, and then to Pick-N-Pay, a neighboring grocery store.

The final location for the scene is in Osmond’s, a store near Cape Town, which stocks everything from towels to toys to clocks, all relatively cheaper than previous stores we have visited.


The facility had been closed since our arrival with no water, ironically because improved water and sewage pipes are being laid in the main road. Throughout the term we had made major strides to prepare for an aftercare programme, and this week with Thanksgiving break approaching, we have pushed to get it ready to open as soon as water returns.

Cast of Characters


Water Has Returned!

On the journey from Cape Town to Langrug, both we and the WaSH-Biz team wait anxiously to see how the community responded to our emotional day on Tuesday. However, as we approach the WaSH facility, we can hear singing and see many of the women dancing in the facility. We disembark quickly and hurry to see inside. To our absolute delight, water has returned to the facility! All the women are dancing and singing and thanking God that water has finally returned! It is amazing to see the women so happy! They continue singing and clapping and throwing water everywhere!

Further Developing the Operations Manual

After we all celebrate happily, we settle down to work. With the water back, there is no reason not to open the aftercare programme as soon as possible. We talk a little bit more about the operations of the facility, and the women have a lot of input on what to do during the days. Mama Thandi seems very excited to teach kids about washing hands, and to encourage children like her daughter to do their homework on time. She expresses how important it is that children have a safe play area, like at the facility. Siyanda also informs us that summer break will begin on 12 December, and then children will be around during the day more. There is a brief discussion about whether the women will be able to feed the children who might be at the facility all day, during this time. On one hand, Amanda thinks it is important to be able to feed the kids, but Siyanda worries about funding. Alfred chips in, saying if we can get the programme going, he will address the municipality to ask for funding.

More on the Aftercare Manual

More on the Aftercare Manual

Designating Responsibility

Additionally, we have a short conversation about continuing Health Promoters training and how that will work when WPI leaves. As a result, we create the position of Health Promoters Coordinator to communicate with George from Health Promoters and to be in charge of informing community members when future Health Promoter workshops are scheduled. Mama Thandi, Siyanda, and Amanda 2 all want Siyanda for the role and she agrees, if all the other co-researchers will support her appointment for the position. Unfortunately we do not get much more work done before we leave with the WaSH-Biz team to get supplies from Build-It.

Field trip to Build-It

Nicole and Stephanie from WaSH-Biz and Mollie, Heather, and Danielle from WaSH-Services walk to where Jan normally parks the van during the day to go to Build-It. Much to our surprise, Jan and the van are both missing! We try calling, texting, and waiting but after about 20 minutes we have no idea where he is. The group begins walking into town. The walk is fun with everyone chatting and laughing. Fortunately we only make it a short distance (less than 200 yards) before Jan appears, seemingly due to Sizwe flagging him down, and everyone jumps in the van.

Where's Jan

Where’s Jan

At Build-It, the teams split up to buy their own necessary supplies. We gather up the red and yellow paint for children’s bathrooms, pick up the L-brackets for the bookshelves, and spend a lot of time comparing the different screws before picking out the ones we hope will work best. We also try to figure out a locking system that will allow the caretakers to lock the showers when no one is using them, preventing people from showering without paying. Mama Thandi picks out some door handles, which have locks on them, and we think together we can figure out how to install them.

Next we move to Pick-N-Pay with the intention of getting some food and also looking to see if they have games and toys for the aftercare programme. The food is easy to find and we purchase cookies for Victoria’s birthday but Sizwe is not impressed with the selection of games and toys. He promises to take us to a bigger store with better prices. We agree to go, but unfortunately the store is near Cape Town, so we will not be able to bring our co-researchers with us.

Meanwhile, Nathan works with Alfred to cut large sheets of wood into planks to be used for the bookshelf. Nathan and Mollie had measured the space next to the sink to make sure it was the right size. Alfred and Nathan double check these measurements and make marks on the shelf wood. They go up to Zwelitsha and see Kholeka and Nobathembu, who are working hard on the new facility. The two guys cut the wood and return to see if it will fit in the designated shelf area next to the sink. Because the wall is slanted slightly, they adjust their measurements and return to Zwelitsha to finish cutting the wood.

Sharing Memories

When we all return to the facility, we take some time for lunch. During lunch we celebrate Mama Victoria’s birthday with some yummy cookies. Additionally, we watch a video Heather made about the progress of the project, now that we are at the halfway point. The video is touching and contains many good memories from the first few weeks, further inspiring everyone to keep working hard. The lunch gets a bit chaotic near the end and it is hard to reel everyone back in to finish up the work for the day.

Halfway Point Movie

Halfway Point Movie

As a result, the afternoon is not as productive as we would like it to be. We are able to confirm Siyanda as Health Promoters Coordinator and Mama Poto as Paint Coordinator. Mama Poto agrees to bring in the paintbrushes and wood that have been left out to dry. We make a detailed list of the supplies we need to get for the aftercare programme and the students promise to buy them at the store. Finally we paint the shelves for the library books, which will hopefully be functioning before we leave for Thanksgiving.

The Biggest Everything Store Ever

The students head out for the day towards Cape Town, where we stop at Osmond’s. The store is a treasure trove of all sorts of objects. We are able to get almost all the things on the list for the aftercare programme (jump ropes, hula-hoops, puzzles, blocks, soft-sided balls, a clock, a towel, soap for the facility, notebooks and binders for documenting the aftercare programme), a few other things that will hopefully be useful (some children’s workbooks, educational posters for the walls) and some other items (a globe which we do not really have a plan for but was purchased anyway). The items were purchased and we headed home for the day.


Overall, the day was very busy, and a lot got done but a lot is still left to do. With the surprise of the water finally being turned on, we’re hopeful that everyone will continue to work hard. In the next three working days, we will try to get a lot done and it will be important for us to use our time effectively while we are in Langrug. However, everyone on our team, especially the community members, seems motivated to work hard and get things done with such a short time limit on our lofty goals.

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