If the water disappears

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The Well (56 min), is a documentary directed by filmmakers Paulo Barberi & Riccardo Russ. Its filming was carried out thanks to the support of the governments of Ethiopia and Italy, and of course with the participation of the Ethiopian pastoral communities that the viewer knows in their habits and adventures throughout the film.

A few kilometers from the border with Kenya, the shepherds of different tribes are dedicated to extracting plastic water from the wells, in order to alleviate the thirst of cattle, on which the lives of hundreds of people depend. We are in the region of Borana, south of Ethiopia, territory inhabited by tribes that have been grazing for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The climatic conditions of the Horn of Africa, as it is known to an extensive territory to the east of the continent, go from the extreme heat and drought to the eventual rains that, due to the effect of human activity, have modified their patterns.

In the documentary the way in which the community develops is observed. The deficiencies, because of the shortage of water, to which they are subjected. The daily hard work of taking cattle to the distant wells, controlled by one or another tribe, as dictated by tradition. Cows, goats, camels, women, children and men, are directed towards the only hope of life, a dirt road that descends down a hollow to a well, nor can the older ones specify the date of their construction.

There, at the source of life, a deep, ancient song of courage and community solidarity serves to cope with the hard work of extracting water. Sometimes up to six people are needed to fill the drinking troughs where humans and animals obtain the precious liquid. It used to be worse, says a young man with black and shiny skin, large and luminous eyes, before you needed up to twelve people. But of course, only on exceptional occasions, when droughts hit the region. Because there was a time when cattle grazed freely and there was no need to travel kilometers to the wells.

That was before land and water were needed in Ethiopia, due to droughts and privatization. It is inevitable to ask how we can process this reality, distant, yes, but at the same time very close to our own, almost around the corner. The problem of water scarcity does not respect borders, very soon, in our communities, we could see ourselves in the need to walk kilometers to a well, to bring water to our homes. What do we do, then, in that situation? First, process it, so that it takes us towards an inner growth.

Let's think about who we are and how this problem affects us. How the lives of the pastors, so far away, help us understand if we possess the individual abilities to respond to a situation of this magnitude. Are we paralyzed? Or, as shown in the documentary, are we capable of organizing ourselves individually and collectively to respond to a situation that, do not doubt it, changes life radically?

The Ethiopian shepherd tribes are endowed with the knowledge of their land and live under a social structure that helps them to organize, that is, they have personal and collective skills and tools with which they can turn around an unforeseen situation. What do we have? How do we evaluate our tools and abilities, assuming we have them?

Let's not go that far, let's think here and now, how we organize ourselves to face our reality, facing a situation that seems closer every day. We are all affected by the lack of water. Let us pay attention to our community, first as individuals and then as parts of the whole, of that fabric that we call humanity. No matter if it is Ethiopia or our small population with its amenities, this affects all living beings, and we must be prepared.


Continuity platform
It is always useful to identify specific lines of human qualities that we are following.

1. What moves you most about this piece? Why is that what moves you the most?

2. If it were up to you, how would you fix this situation?

3. What would you like to be different?

4. How can you do that right now inside yourself?

5. And in your collective?

6. From the perspective that everything you think should be different, without judgments, regardless of the reason you have or not. What are your judgments? It's wrong? It's OK? And from where do you have the certainty of being right?

7. What are the ways of separating from other humans involved in the problem that the documentary exposes? Who are the others? How do you rescue the human essence in them and in yourself, awakening empathy?

8. What is the way to separate yourself from your own humanity here and now, when you judge and judge the circumstances of your life?

9. How do you inspire to be the integral transformation, and from your abundance move the energy towards collective participations as equanimous as determined here and now taking your place in the universe, no more and no less?


Activism, EnglishClaudia Flores