#ClimateStory4Kids: Zahara and the poisoned stream

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#ClimateStory4Kids: Zahara and the poisoned stream

Hello Kids!

Welcome to #ClimateStory4Kids.

Did you know that clean and healthy water is one of the most beneficial things to our environment? Water is the habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures you can think about.

Imagine for a moment how it would affect you if you always had your home polluted by some foreign substance that you knew nothing about and it made you sick…you would want to get rid of that substance as soon as you could right?

Well, that was the case with Zahara, a brave young girl from a small village in Zanzibar.

Situated in Zahara’s village was a sparkly stream that was home to many aquatic species. All the villagers relied on the stream for cooking, washing, drinking, and virtually everything they needed water for.

Zahara loved the freshwater creatures and was fascinated by their different shapes, sizes, and colors. She would sit on a small rock right beside the stream and spend hours feeding the creatures and watching them swim in the stream, some of them playfully jumping in the air and back into the stream.

Zahara loved the freshwater animals so much that she would look for moist soil and dig it just to find earthworms to feed the fish. She oftentimes ignored the fishermen’s advice to use the worms as bait to catch some fish. That was how much she loved them.

One evening, Zahara went to the stream with a small sack of earthworms like she always did. She sat down on her rock and took a handful of worms from her sack in a bid to feed the fish.

Usually, she would not have to call them out, they would be close to the edge of the stream, playing around this time. But not one of them could be seen.

She made soft calling noises to get them to come out but there was no response. This was strange to her. They didn’t usually take this long to respond.

Worried, Zahara ran back home to tell her mother what had happened at the stream.

“Mother! Mother!” Zahara called. Her mother looked up from the crayfish she was picking, surprised to see her daughter back so early.

“Zahara, have you fed the fish already?” Zahara shook her head and stared at her mother with a look of confusion and disappointment on her cute little face.

“The fish were not there. They didn’t come out to play.”

“Oh.” Her mother said. “There must be a good reason behind it. Do not get yourself worked up. When you go to the stream again tomorrow, they’ll be there.”

Zahara did not feel content with her mother’s response. But she did not want to disobey, so she stayed back home and sat at the edge of her chair, waiting impatiently till the next evening.

Immediately she sighted a setting sun, Zahara grabbed her sack of earthworms and ran to the stream, full of hope that she would see her darling water creatures again. However, that hope was totally dashed when she met an empty stream. No fish. Nothing.

That was when Zahara knew that something was definitely wrong.

A group of fishermen sailed to the edge of the stream just then. They looked really downcast and tired. Zahara did not have to strain her ears so much to know what they were discussing. It was the fish!

Each time they had cast their nets into the stream, they caught dead fish. And when they examined the dead fish, they found strange substances in them. The substance had contaminated the stream and this meant the villagers would have to avoid the stream until they got to the root of the problem.

The fishermen went into the heart of the village to spread the bad news about their stream.

Zahara wondered where such substance could have come from. No sooner had she pondered than she got a whiff of a foul smell in the air. She traced the smell until it led her into a long forest path.

The sky had darkened a bit more around that time and she could feel fear creeping up on her but the equal amount of curiosity she felt would not let her back down. Somehow, she knew her answer lay behind the foul smell.

The path led Zahara to a clearing. It looked like a part of the village that had not been discovered by most of the villagers just yet. But someone was definitely there and that person did not want anyone knowing they lived there.

Whoever it was, to Zahara’s surprise, had built a hut, a mudhouse, and a small barn for all sorts of animals. There were pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, and rabbits in different sections of the barn. They were also using animal waste as manure. Little wonder her tender nostrils had been assaulted by that awful smell earlier on, Zahara reasoned.

Zahara was sure her mother would be worried about her by now, but how could she leave now when she was so close to getting an answer to her questions?

Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw a man coming out of the mudhouse. He walked into the hut and brought out a big sack of bird food. They looked like grains. Then he went to the section that had the ducks and fed them, doing the same with the chickens and the turkeys.

The man swept the sections of each of the animals and packed all the old food and wastes into another sack until it was full. Everything he did seemed pretty normal to Zahara.

When Zahara thought she had seen enough and turned to go home, her side eyes caught the man heading towards the stream with the sack of waste! She followed him carefully and tried hard not to make any sound.

As she passed the front of his hut, she noticed that the door was slightly open. And through the gaping door, she saw huge bottles with the name tags “Methylmercury Preservatives For Animal Grain.”

Zahara’s eyes widened in horror as she recognized that name, “Methylmercury.” She had read about it in her elder brother’s textbook. It was a chemical that was used to preserve animal grains but was super harmful to humans and aquatic species.

Did this man even realize what he was doing? Zahara muttered under her breath, anger beginning to swell inside of her.

She bolted after him with all her might, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Stop! Don’t pour the grains in the stream!”

The man seemed not to have heard her because he had covered a huge distance already. Zahara wished then, more than ever, that she had long legs. The man was moving so fast!

Fatigue slowly washed over Zahara as she raced after him but the thought of the villagers and her precious little water creatures kept her going. With fresh determination, Zahara increased her pace and caught up with the man as he got to the edge of the stream.

She stood in front of him to block his path, arms akimbo. The man looked shocked and confused but Zahara didn’t care.

“You cannot pour that grain waste in the stream!” She was panting heavily but still ensured that her words came out clearly.

The man was still looking confused. Did he not hear her? Zahara thought to herself.

The man said something in words she could not understand. He was speaking a foreign language! Zahara realized. She did not know the language he was speaking and neither did he, hers.

What could she do to communicate the harmfulness of the substance the man had with him? How could she stop him from pouring this poison into the stream? Zhara was deep in thoughts.

Then an idea struck her. Body language! She had to put on an act.

So, Zahara gave the man a wide smile and stretched her hand forward, gesturing to him, “Give me the sack in your hands. I will help you dispose of it. I know you must be really tired.”

The man smiled too, letting down his guard because of her countenance. She knew he did not fully understand her, but he had an idea of what she was trying to say now. She encouraged him to hand the sack over to her until he gave in. She kept up her act until he turned back and left for his mudhouse.

Zahara let out a sigh of relief and dragged the sack into her village.
When she got home, her mother was really happy to see her but also curious about the big sack and why her daughter looked so tired.

“Mother, brother Timon, could you help me tell the village elders that I’ve found the cause of our water’s pollution?”

Her family got to work immediately. They met the village elders and in no time, the entire village found out about the harmful chemical and the man who was ignorantly using them and pouring it in the stream.

Everyone in the village was grateful to Zahara for being brave enough to go the extra mile and save everyone.

The strange man was not exiled from the village outskirts. Instead, he was properly educated about the chemicals he was using. He was also given a thorough warning to never do anything that would harm nature again.

The village’s stream was saved. The villagers were saved. The surviving creatures reproduced again and so enough, the stream had life forms, all thanks to Zahara.

Kids, we hope you enjoyed this story. Kindly share with friends.

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