There is a superstition in Moldova that it is bad luck to pass someone who is carrying an empty bucket. Presumably, the idea here is that if you see someone who is on his or her way to the local well, you should walk with them and then help them carry the heavy bucket full of water. If you do, with a little luck, maybe you will be met with similarly good fortune.
Cooperation has been a part of rural Moldovan life for a very long time. Since not everyone can afford the resources necessary for even sustenance farming, people have traditionally shared what was needed in respect to both tools and labor. The young and able did what their elderly relatives could not, and the wealthier residents of a community shared whatever limited farm equipment was available to them. This was an idea that predates Soviet communism. It was, in fact, a basic necessity for survival.
Today, in the village of Stefanesti, the extremely limited availability of potable water threatens to undermine the spirit of cooperation upon which its residents have sustained themselves for hundreds of years. There is now competition for clean water, and it functions on a “survival of the fittest” and “first come, first served” mentality.
Residents of Stefanesti have told me that in order to get clean water, they have to wake up at three or four in the morning to fill their buckets. Even then, they must prioritize in terms of how the water is used, which means that basic hygiene is often neglected in favor of having clean water to drink and to give to the animals. For those who get to the well too late, even basic needs such as these cannot be met.
The same is true for those who lack the strength to lift a bucket from the only wells deep enough to provide clean water, or to carry it the five or six kilometers it takes to get it home. Meanwhile, the young and able are leaving the villages for a better life in the city, where issues such as hepatitis and other maladies caused by unclean water can mostly be avoided.
This presents a rather bleak outlook for the residents of Stefanesti and other villages throughout Moldova. They need clean water to survive, but they lack the resources to attain this modest goal. With deeper wells and modern plumbing, life could flourish, both in the fields and in the home. Otherwise, I am sorry to say, the situation will only worse. For perhaps the first time, they need cooperation beyond their basic community.
This is where you come in.
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