Thursday, July 18, 2024

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind


It is hard to fathom the idea of waking up before sunrise every morning and spending hours walking just to find a water source. Standing in line to access a muddy water hole in the ground that you share with both your neighbor and livestock. Carrying 40 pounds of dirty water back home on your back and then serving it to the people you love most. Constant suffering from stomach pains and diarrhoea has become the norm. Losing children to water-related diseases is no exemption.

It is a world most of us do not know, yet it is the reality for 748 million people around the world – 748 million! That is nearly 10% of everyone living on this planet.

How often do we think about where our water comes from and how much is left?

You and I got lucky. We are the other 90 percent. We happen to be born in places where we have never had to worry about finding water or deal with the fear that our water might affect the health of our families.

But that does not mean that what the other 10 percent goes through cannot be told to us. Their stories can impact us.

How many of us are willing to visit these people who need clean water and share a meal with them and just listen to the stories of their daily struggle…of course, the answer is None! We are too busy.

What no one ever told you about Northern Kenya, is that there are practically dry areas – the horn of the Sahara Desert. Truly. One hundred and fifteen degrees, sandy, dry and brutal. Sadly, there is no place to escape any of it. The only available water in these places lies in 100-year-old holes in the ground, and women have no choice but to hoist it out by rope, one bucket at a time. As a result, their hands are gnarly, shredded, calloused and hard.  All these are painfully exhausting.

Eastern Uganda is like Hawaii in the early 1970s: a less-modern kind of paradise. Lush hills thick with green. Fruit stands packed with pineapple, mango, watermelon, and avocado. It is beautiful, and just the right amount of hot. But it is an eerie contrast to life in a rural community without clean water. Women here walk up to six miles along dense, marshy paths to reach a polluted lake or river that is home to snakes and crocodiles. Everyone in the village knows someone who has been killed by one or the other, and many have seen it happen.  Even though, that is not as scary as the walk itself, that leaves women exposed to human predators (such as passing fishermen) who may be lurking in the bushes. Their only wish is to be able to access clean water so they can live without fear like the 90 percent of us.

In Mozambique, the story is no different. Lucky enough for them, help came earlier than expected. Water points with clean, safe water have been designated in the villages where the communities could fetch their water at ease. The difference clean water has made in the community is incredible.

Water is life!

Photo by Flickr

Probably we have used that phrase countless times in our lives. What I am not sure is if we understand the depth of that phrase right away. We all know that having access to clean water can immediately improve health and make life easier and safer – but the incredible takeaway for all of us should be; getting clean water for the first time brings the start of a new life.

Healthier kids spend more time in school. Healthier families save money on hospital bills. It is exponential. Better opportunities. Stronger economies. Future leaders. An end to poverty.

Water is where it all begins.

Knowing that…how can we the 90 percent who got lucky, not do something to help the 748 million people who did not?

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