Recently I was asked to talk about access to clean water for a highly energetic and inquisitive group of kids attending a mission week camp at a local United Methodist church.
The young woman leading the children through the week found several articles I have written on the subject. She planned many interesting activities for the kids including a “water walk” to bring home the reality of how far people have to walk to find water as well as a Lemon:Aid stand that raised $300 for blood:water mission. (http://www.bloodwatermission.com/)
Speaking is not something I am good at, but I do know how to change disgusting, dirty water into clean drinking water. I watched it done in Haiti by the man who invented the PUR packets, Greg Allgood. It is impressive stuff.
The hardest part of the demonstration for me was finding really dirty water. The irony was not lost on me. It would have been so simple to just turn on the kitchen faucet and fill up a two-gallon container of water. I finally settled on getting the water from the creek behind my house. It really didn’t look bad enough, even after I added a little dirt. Nowhere near the filth of that water in Haiti.
Lugging two gallons of water was no easy task either. Luckily, the church had an elevator. It made me feel inadequate when I thought of all the children toting bigger buckets than mine, one in each hand and another one on their heads walking calmly down a dusty road.
In addition to the demonstration, I also showed the children several pictures taken by friend and co-worker Mike DuBose from Africa and Haiti of filthy water along roadsides and inside villages. They saw photos of children their age carrying those heavy loads of water, playing in the sewage water and struggling to pump water from wells.
One child observed, “They must be very strong.”
It is hard to convey how really horrible the lack of clean water is for so many millions of people. Kenya is suffering from a crippling drought. Water is being rationed and each household is limited to 10.4 (U.S.) gallons of water a day. Compare that to the average American household of four that can use 400 gallons of water a day.
I still remember former United Methodist Bishop Joao S. Machado from Mozambique crying over a story he was telling about people drinking muddy brown water from a ditch in a village he had just visited. “I don’t know how those people are alive with water like that,” he said.
I don’t know either. They must be very strong.