What Does Water Mean to You? – by Janet Faveri

The Island President

Ethical Bean Coffee is a proud sponsor of the Vancouver Festival of Ocean Films, being presented June 8th and 9th at the Vancity Theater. We are title sponsors of  The Island President showing Sunday, June 9, at 1pm, and if you haven’t heard of this film, take a moment to check out the website for the VFOF and all the movies being presented.

Reading about the VFOF documentaries and films, I started thinking about my own interactions with water. In 2007, I camped my way around Southern Africa. It was a trip that opened my eyes in a hundred clichéd ways and has led me back Mama Africa twice since. Every adventure was incredibly different from the other, but I often tell these 3 stories, one from each trip, and what a coincidence – they happen to revolve around water!


On that first excursion in 2007, I rafted down the Zambezi River with 4 friends. October is low season when it comes to water over Victoria Falls and through the gorge, but Rapid 4, “Morning Glory”, was raging that day and our raft flipped. I’ll spare the scary and spiritual details, but know this–I thought I was a goner. I let my body be whipped and ravaged underwater for what felt like forever, all the while thinking clearly about how amazingly powerful this water was (and then thinking, “these are my last seconds- shouldn’t I be thinking about my family? My boyfriend? Who gets my car?”). This was a far cry from the carefree day before where I had hiked along, and even sat on an edge of, a portion of Victoria Falls (Zambian side) that had dried up. I was never afraid of water, and am fortunate that this experience didn’t shake me, but it really was my first physical experience with the extreme power of water.


My next adventure to Africa was the east coast of South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal. St. Lucia is small town in the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, which is a United Nations World Heritage site. I was a volunteer photographer documenting the eight ecosystems comprising the Park. We also used the photos to educate children in Khula village about the special and protected environment they live in. One day we took all the kids to the beach on the Indian Ocean. Some didn’t know they lived five minutes from the ocean and had never seen it before! I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to take a picture of those 40 kids running and screaming like crazy across the hot sand. The multi-coloured underwear on their tiny brown bodies aiming for the blue and white water- it was a hilarious and a beautifully coloured moment. Those kids had no fear of the water and we splashed, ran from, and jumped waves for hours. The joy we all shared that afternoon in the water created treasured memories for all.


Then there is the reality of water in Africa–sometimes there isn’t any. In 2011, I volunteered to work at a game reserve tracking wildlife and conserving the land.  It wasn’t hard to do either as the area hadn’t had rain in months. There were no grasses hiding the animals and the earth was bone dry so it was easy to work the land. Did I mention it was hot? The water truck came to camp twice a week, and when we heard it roaring down the road and saw the trailing dust cloud from the middle of the reserve, we ran like cheetahs to the cabins at the bottom of the hill (because there was never enough water pumped in to fill the pipes to the cabins at the top of the hill). I will never forget those 3 precious minutes in the shower.  I will also never forget the walk back to my cabin after that shower when out of nowhere it started to rain. And rain it did for 24 hours straight! This was a great development for the animals whose water sources had been replenished. Also for the plants and trees which needed this rain to spur on their growth and in turn provide food for the animals and insects. More importantly though, the rainfall was a very happy time for the locals who struggle valiantly and with much more calm and grace than we would with their water issues.

Nature. It’s phenomenal.

Living on the ocean creates daily opportunities to be impacted by water–from the weather to recreation. Help support our oceans by supporting the Vancouver Festival of Ocean Films and watch Ethical Bean Coffee’s twitter and Facebook for posts for information on the festival as well as a ticket give-away!

10 Responses to What Does Water Mean to You? – by Janet Faveri

  1. Shirley Gust says:

    Excellent work!!

  2. marie fortier says:

    Every day I lined up 5 glasses of water on the counter of my kitchen… for me to consume during the day… With stories like yours and others… each time I lift a glass and drink from it I can consciously taste and appreciate.
    I have the same awareness when I take a shower.
    It is not a lot but a start…
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and your pictures.

  3. Sue Faveri says:

    So glad you have been able to experience all of that, it makes you a more compassionate person.

  4. kurt gust says:

    i joy to read..we all need to travel more,in order to appreciate what we have and enjoy in our own backyard….

  5. Caitlin Griffin says:

    Entirely inspirational.

  6. Marion Doherty says:

    Great writing Janet. Can almost hear the kids laughing and shouting. Sure makes us not take too much for granted doesn’t it.

  7. Cindy Rodier says:

    Great stories! and I love the picture of the kids running towards the water!

  8. Jud Paynter says:

    Thank you Janet. Did you not have the generosity of spirit to volunteer as you do you would not have had these touching vignettes to share. Keep up the good work.

  9. Alex Gust says:

    Awesome! Great writing and a joy to share your experiences in this way. I want to come next time!!

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