Do you stop at a gas station on a trip to get a bottle of water? Do you have a bottle at your desk at work? Do you have a tall glass of ice water at every meal? Of course you do. To us in the US water is pretty much everywhere. There are vending machines just about everywhere filled with Aquafina and Dasani. For over a billion people, though, that is not the case.
While water is available throughout much of the world, clean drinking water is not. More than 1,000,000,000 lack clean water. Think about that for a second. Think about what it is like to be thirsty. Think about a hot summer day. Now imagine not being able to quench that thirst. Or, imagine taking a swig of dirty, disgusting water, brimming with God knows what. Imagine how sick you get afterwards from the cholera you just contracted.
S and I got a glimpse of this problem first-hand last year. We saw people (mostly women) with large yellow plastic containers walking to and from a water source for their precious allotment. Some were blessed enough to have a donkey to carry their containers, while others had to lug water that probably weighed half of what they did. We saw children with empty water bottles (the kind you’d get from a vending machine) collecting what looked like nothing better than mud out of the ditches along the side of the road. From our vantage point it pretty much had the color of chocolate milk. It broke our hearts.
Today is World Water Day. It started in 1993 by the United Nations as a way to educate people about freshwater. There is a different theme each year, and this one’s is Water and Food Security. Water is critical not only for drinking and cooking, but also for food production. A question many deal with is: how do we balance individual needs for drinking water and farmers’ needs for water for crops and livestock? It’s a sticky question. (One note: It takes 1500 liters of water to yield 1 kilogram of wheat, but 15,000 liters to produce 1 kilogram of beef. Clearly cutting back on meat consumption can help here, but I’m not going on that tangent. ) http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/faqs.html
We’ve got to be able to find a way to figure this out. There is lots of water. There are thirsty people. We just need to get the water clean, and then to get it to those thirsty people. It’s a simple problem and a simple solution. But it is harder than that. There are organizations out there like Charity: Water (www.charitywater.org) that go into villages and help provide clean drinking water. They have a unique fundraising campaign. It is so easy. You simply set up an account with them and give up your birthday. Instead of giving you gifts your friends and family donate a dollar for each year you have graced this earth with your presence. If you are 30 and your parents, 2 siblings, grandparents (2 sets), 4 aunts, best friend, and 3 co-workers all donate $30 for your birthday you will have raised $420! You did nothing, really, yet are able to help so many. There are other organizations out there that build wells and rain purification systems as well.
I’m not trying to push a particular charity, but rather to simply bring this issue to your attention for the time it takes for you to read this blog. Hopefully you will decide to find some way – even a small one – to help.