Growing up, my only real life reference of global problems was my mom telling me to finish my food because “there are children starving in Africa”. And that sentiment never once kept me from throwing food away.
Then for a very long time, I lived my life kinda knowing but not knowing that there were some really big problems in the world. I’d see things on the news that would make me shake my head and think “oh, that’s too bad”. I was thankful to have been born in America, but didn’t really have any idea what it meant to be truly thankful for that.
And then I went to Africa. And my heart was broken and filled.
I want to write about Africa but I don’t have the words for it. There are not enough and there are none that can do it justice. Maybe someday, not today.
But today is World Water Day. You’ve probably never even heard of it although it’s been observed on 3/22 for more than 10 years. It’s a day to bring awareness to the global water crisis. And since I’ve experienced this crisis firsthand, I wanted to weigh in. So here’s my two cents worth. The crisis isn’t a crisis because there is a lack of water. It’s a crisis because there is water that the people can’t access.
But the people have to have to water, and so they walk to find it. Miles and miles and hours and hours they walk to find water. And when they get to it, it’s dirty but they don’t care. They don’t care because they are thirsty and their children are thirsty and they are going to die without water so they drink it. They let their children drink it. And the water that they drink sustains them while slowly killing them.
They are killing themselves and their children by drinking dirty water. Not because there isn’t clean water around them…but because they can’t get to it. The ground is too dry and too hard, they have no equipment and the water is too far down for them to dig to it with their handmade shovels.
So it’s easy to look at this as a crisis and think “oh that’s too bad”. But what we should be doing is looking at this and asking how we can help them. These are not “problems” for us in America. We have the resources, equipment and finances to gain access to clean water pretty much anywhere in the world. We are rich with resources. But we can be really bad at sharing.
The water crisis isn’t a crisis of water at all, it’s a crisis of ignorance and greed. It’s a crisis that is at worst, manageable and at best solvable with a little education and generosity.
So in honor of World Water Day, I would encourage you to do something, it doesn’t matter what, to bring awareness to this crisis. Maybe for you it’s just not wasting the water in your house, turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, don’t let the shower “warm up” for 10 minutes. Maybe it’s just having a conversation with your kids about what a privilege it is to be able to turn on a faucet inside your home to get water. Or maybe it’s making a donation to an organization that is doing the hard work of getting to clean water somewhere else in the world. Whatever it is, I completely believe that together our small things can bring great change.