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From the field

Testimony: Aminah Jabarin has trouble running her household because of water shortage, May 2008

Aminah Jabarin , mother of nine

I am a homemaker and have nine children. I take care of their studies, food, clothes, and cleanliness. I take special care of the small children. They play with friends in the neighborhood and come home with dirty clothes. In summertime, my children used to shower after playing and then again before going to sleep.

For three years now, we've had a water problem in the summer. The water stops flowing in Tuqu's water network for long periods of time, up to 35 days in a row. We can't afford to dig a well, which is very expensive.  My husband is our sole supporter. Our children are at university and in schools, which cost lots of money.

We can't afford to buy water from tankers, because it's very expensive. Even when there isn't water in the pipes for a long time, we don't buy water. The children walk about five kilometers, from the center of Tuqu' to the wells in al-Bariyeh, on the edge of the village, to fill up bottles and bring them home. We don't have a car, and my husband is at work all day. I boil the water so we can drink it and cook with it.

We wash the dishes in a bucket and save the water for the toilet. If each child goes to the toilet once a day, I need nine buckets of water a day just to flush it. I constantly worry that someone will go to the toilet, because I have to figure out where to get the water. I tell the children to use the toilet at school before they come home. This is one of the problems we have because of the lack of water flow.

I wash our clothes by hand because we don't have enough water to use the machine. Laundering is really hard work. The small children play and dirty their clothes. The laundry piles up, and cleaning them takes lots of time and effort, as if I don't have other chores and responsibilities.

I fall asleep completely exhausted from effort and worry. It hurts me to see my boys hauling bottles long distances to fill them up, especially on hot days. Worrying about water has become a nightmare, so much so that if you ask me what I want most, I would say water in my house all the time.

Aminah Hussein 'Awad Jabarin, 47, married with nine children, is a homemaker and a resident of Tuqu' in Bethlehem District. Her testimony was given to Suha Zeid at the witness's home on 29 May 2008.