Drought. In some countries, that means not washing the car or watering the garden. In Ivory Coast, by contrast, it is much more basic than that: “how long will our remaining water last?” A few months without rain, and it quickly becomes a question of survival: and “how long will our water last?” was the pressing question they were asking themselves in L’Arche Bouaké in April 2018. Especially as more and more neighbours were coming over to L’Arche, to get water, as their own supply dried up.
Community leader Koffi Gnagoran was concerned for the members of L’Arche: “how long will our water last?” It wasn’t obvious. However, Ekrou Kouamé Michel, a man with an intellectual disability, showed the way forward. Koffi tells the story: “Kouamé is a man of few words. But he knows how to make himself understood, especially with his eyes: one day, as we were getting more and more worried if there would be enough water for us, Kouamé pointed to the local maternity hospital, at Ahougnansou: we realised he was concerned for the mothers and new-born children there. He wanted us to find out how they were coping. We didn’t know, but we went and asked. The head nurse told us their supply was running low. So we filled up four big 200 gallon drums and took them over. The joy of the nurses, when they saw us! But nothing could match Kouamé’s smile.
That day, Kouamé taught us all a lesson: he wants everyone in our neighbourhood to live. Not just us. Not just the ones able to come to us and get filled up. But everyone. Kouamé’s lesson is that true survival is about solidarity. Without solidarity, we are lost.”