All I wanted was a sip of water last weekend as I lay there with the stomach flu in our hotel near Disneyland. I had resigned myself to the fact that I had to miss my kids enjoying our second day of Disneyland. My parents had treated us to this fantastic trip, and sadly, I ended up pretty sick for the last day. The kids didn't seem bothered at all, and off they went to explore and ride and play.
So, I tried to sleep, though the nausea and trips to the bathroom were not ignorable interruptions. I decided to take a warm bath, and as I looked at the crystal clear water pouring out of the faucet as the tub was filling, I felt grateful to have access to this clean water. My mind flashed back to the brown water that used to run out of our faucet in Kenya. Even so, we were more privileged than the vast majority of the population to have access to running water at all, though non-potable as it were. In fact, nearly one billion people (out of the world's approx. seven billion) have no access to any clean water at all. This translates into 2 million people dying each year from diarrhea - 1.5 million of those deaths are children. After pneumonia, diarrhea (both preventable with clean water access and treatable) is the second leading cause of death for children worldwide. (See the World Health Organization's site for these and other shocking water-related facts).
I knew as I sat there in the hotel room, that I was experiencing something that incredibly rarely, if ever, happens to me. There was a basic necessity that I wanted but I couldn't have it. Actually, it wasn't even that I couldn't have it, but rather that I knew if I drank anything at that point in time it would make me feel very, very ill. I needed some water, but it was going to make things worse for me.
Its hard to stomach that so very many kids needlessly die from diarrheal diseases though preventable by clean water. Adults live perpetually ill with parasites. Still recovering from the stomach flu, I literally cannot imagine living or functioning, let alone providing for my family day in and day out while feeling like this. People all over the world have to drink water to survive, but the water that they drink will make them feel worse, at the least. It is really quite difficult to imagine. And unfathomable is thinking of the effects that water could have on my kids.
As I have learned more, I cannot believe how unaddressed this issue is. Many strides have been made in the last few years, but they are like drops in the bucket of this problem. Interestingly enough, dollar for dollar, clean water is the most effective and impacting giving we can participate in to help alleviate poverty. Check out this excellent article for more info on this subject. Much needs to be done and this shouldn't be ignored.As we have been coming into this season of Lent, where people often choose to give up something, I have been thinking a lot about if or what to give up. With an opportunity like Significant Sacrifice right in front of me, it should be a non-issue for me to sacrifice something - for I still remember holding my very own son, immediately after we had adopted him from Ethiopia. He was limp and dehydrated from a water-borne parasite that was ravaging his little body. How could I possibly not give up something so that I can help that not have to happen to anymore sweet babies?
Often my ability to focus on my own self and immediate surroundings tends to push everything out of my mind, the same way my desire for just a sip of water took over my thoughts this weekend. However, this time I'm grateful because it helped strengthen my resolve to bring this issue to light and make sure I actually do something about it this time.