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Inspiration 1 | Inspiration 2

Exploring in Words

The materials here are:

  • Background information
  • A poem
  • Two task options

Background information

Water is one of the planet's basic natural resources. However, there is a global water crisis.

The reasons for the crisis are complex. Some countries naturally have plenty of water, others have very little. Rich countries have the ability to manage and provide water to all their inhabitants, but poorer countries lack the infrastructure to provide adequate and clean water to their people. Global warming and climate change are compounding the problem, making water a key issue for survival.

Everyone should have the right to clean water.

Poor management of water resources and regular drought conditions have put many millions of people at risk of dying. Indeed many millions do die each year because crops fail, resulting in widespread famine.

See Factfile and Student Resources for facts and figures and links to some great websites on water, aid programmes the impact of politics on access to water...and much more.


I have no friends

I have no friends:
do not pity me
or try to sympathize.
We are all in the same dry desert
waiting for the same cloud
that stopped over the sea.
Prayers are personal.

With my hands I form a cup
to receive rain,
those transparent grains
of water.
You pray for yourself.
We do not have enough words,
our breaths are too short.

Memory recollects only oneself,
a desiccated man deserted by water;
beyond this region nothing matters.
My eyes are dried by the dust;
there is no need for sight.
It's already night
and the rain has not come.

by Mohammad Haji Salleh

A Malaysian writer wrote this poem. It expresses the plight of a man who is desperate for the rains to come. It conveys the feeling of a solitary survivor.


1. Water Words

Read through the poem and write down all the emotions, feelings and images that come to you. Then think about the age of the man, where he might be and describe the landscape. Does he have children, what might he be thinking, when was the last time he saw rain, what does the air feel like?

Using the words you have written down, either

  • compose a poem or
  • arrange the words to make the outline of the word "water." E.g.:

***........ ***..... ***.... *******..... ******.... .******
..***. *. *** ....**.. **.... .***..........****.........****
....** ....** .....** .....** ...***.........******......**...**

(W A T E R)
Or you could try the words THIRST, or DESPAIR

2. Letter to a friend

Read through the poem, then discuss the sort of friends the writer might like to have. If the writer could have whatever friends he wanted, who might they be? [E.g., a water engineer, politician with the United Nations, politician in the poet's government, charity fund raiser, millionaire]

How can they help him?

Where would they come from: his own country, Malaysia, or another country?

Think of the "friend" who might best be able to help the poet. You might want to get ideas from the Student Resources.

Use your ideas to write a letter to the "friend" you have imagined.

  • explain the poet's desperate situation.
  • ask for help on his behalf. Say what sort of help is needed.

Try to use facts and feeling in your letter to persuade the "friend" to help.