Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pure H2O

As I mentioned yesterday, Sister Konnie asked us all to write down what we were thankful for in 2013. I thought about writing the usual. Family, friends, health. But when I thought just a little bit longer, I thought about what was different in my life after 2013.

A couple months ago, I hopped on a plane (or three) and traveled to Guatemala with World Vision. I spent a week riding bumpy roads outside of Guatemala City witnessing the work World Vision is accomplishing in the country. Learning more about how they are addressing issues of malnutrition, providing sponsorship programs and education for children, building homes, and even bringing music to children way up in the mountains. (You can read all about my journey here, here, here, herehere, and here.)

One day during that week in September, after multiple stops on the bus, spending the morning listening to the sounds of string instruments join in the song of the birds, and after way too much bottled water, I entered a lean-to made of patched wood and tin. Its door nothing but a bright blue tattered tarp. With flies buzzing around my head, I contemplated the porcelain toilet in front of me. A glorified outhouse.

This is not the bathroom, but you get the idea. 
(Photo credit: Matthew Paul Turner)

I could see through the gaps in the "walls" and the blue tarp door. I could hear the conversations of those just outside the structure. And I knew in that moment that I was lucky that this, this was the most primitive bathroom I had ever been compelled to enter (outside of camping and hiking sans facilities).

On the drive every morning, we would see women doing laundry in the community wash center. Washing clothes by hand. And everywhere we went that week, laundry dripped from clothes lines. September is the wettest month. And it rained every day. Yet the clothes stayed out on the line. I wondered how it would ever get dry.

(Photo credit: Laura Reinhardt)

As I put a load of laundry in the washing machine in my home, I think about those women bent over wash basins. As I stretch sheets pulled straight from the dryer across the length of my bed, I think they'd never be this warm hanging outside in the rain.

And as I turn the tap on and off countless times each day, I think about the week I spent drinking bottled water, brushing my teeth with bottled water, cleaning my hands with bottled hand sanitizer.

Did you know that in this world nearly 1 billion people don't have access to clean drinking water? Double that number and add some and that's how many people don't have proper sanitation? Can you even imagine that? Nearly 4,000 children under 5 die every single day as a result of lacking these basic necessities we take for granted over and over again each day.

This holiday season I am thankful for indoor plumbing. For running water. And for organizations like World Vision who work to address the need for clean water around the world.  It hasn't been all that long since indoor plumbing was the standard even in this country. Both my parents remember a time and place without it. But we've got a long way to go to make sure everyone has access to clean water.

World Vision is celebrating this Christmas season with the Share #Joy Advent Challenge. Will you join me in the Share #Joy challenge today and advocate for clean water for every child? To do so, go here, and sign the Beyond 5 petition and tell your congressmen you support the Water for the World Act. To learn more about the sharing your voice, hop on over to the World Vision blog.  

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