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September 10, 2008

Water to the Desert

My four-year-old son and I are reading Children Just Like Me, a book about children from all over the world, produced in collaboration with Unicef. We recently arrived at the African section, and tonight we read about a little girl who lives in Botswana. The book describes the hot, dry, weather there at the edge of the Kalahari Desert. It shows the little girl's house, made of soil and cow dung and with a roof of dried grass.

My son didn't understand at first why the house was made of soil. I showed him how few trees there were in the pictures, and told him those few were important and couldn't be used for the house. He didn't understand at first that the roof was grass--he thought I might mean glass--and then pointed out that the roof was brown. It's dry, I told him.

When we finished reading about this child and her home he told me what he would do if he lived in that place:

"I would buy twenty bottle of water. And I would get a car one hundred and sixty feet long. Ok? And I would put the bottles in the car and I would drive there and I would pour the water on the ground, for twenty days. And I would pour some on the trees, because they need it too."