I can feel the rough concrete behind my back as I wait for the rain to start. The wind is picking up around me, stirring the loose hairs around my face and tickling my cheeks. I close my eyes to soak in the feeling of the wind in my hair and the sound of the crickets chirping in the distance.
When I was younger, my grandmother and I regularly sat outside to listen as the summer thunderstorms went rolling across the sky. For a brief moment, I feel transported back to a different time and place, where I am 5 or 6 years old, sitting on a screen porch in North Georgia. The lightning flashes beneath my eyelids, waking me from my trance. Odd; there is not any thunder. For the past 30 minutes, I have been sitting, watching the storm slowly move towards me, the dark clouds lumbering carelessly through the sky. Just then, the wind picks up, threatening to whip my hair out of its loose bun.
I think the weather can sense my dare, daring it to let loose a real storm, something more than the rain that lulls me to sleep or the rain that lightly cools my skin after a long day of work. I have yet to see a real storm, full of the madness of thunder and shock of lightning. The temperature is quickly dropping with the pre-rain winds blowing in, and I am glad I brought a sweatshirt with me, for moments like this.
This is why I am here: water. I am researching the effects of heavy monsoon rain on drinking water quality in a village in the northern part of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal. Over the course of 9 weeks, as the Environment and Conservation Intern for the nonprofit organization Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN), I’ve surveyed households on health, hygiene, and water treatment habits, located major water sources, chemically tested water samples, and analyzed water treatment methods, all with the background music of the rain’s soft rhythm on the tin roof. I observed the beauty and destruction of Mother Nature in its most deceiving form.
Water brings life. The air smells of the water-soaked earth and lush green vegetation, the rice stalks are growing taller every day, and there is abundant (but not necessarily clean) drinking water. But, water also brings devastation. Landslides rumble down hill slopes, water damage creeps across the inside walls, and drinking water becomes more and more contaminated each day.
I have seen first-hand the beauty and the destruction of Mother Nature, and I have a greater appreciation for the ease with which we get clean water in the United States. Water is a fundamental necessity of life, and clean water is not available everywhere.