I am passionate about water. I. Love. Water. If I were to take a questionnaire and it asked me what my favorite beverage was, hands down it would be water. If water was not an option I’d refuse to answer the question.
Water is one of those blessings that people living in first-world countries take for granted. We can turn on the faucet and an unending flow of clean, clear water comes pouring through, and the water keeps running until we decide to turn it off.
You see, because of my intense love for it, I have in turn come to develop a few pet peeves about it. First, here in this first-world country, please don’t buy bottled water. I dislike it when people buy water, I don’t care if it’s got sparkles or will taste like grape, or even if it’s specially taken from the melting snow of Mt. Kilimanjaro – don’t buy water. The water from your faucet is perfectly adequate to drink. If you want cleaner, great-tasting water, help boost Brita’s sales by purchasing a water filter; I’d be okay with that. But please, please don’t buy water. Plan ahead, fill a water bottle with water from your faucet at home if you know you’ll be thirsty on your excursion. Second, please turn off the faucet in between brushing your teeth. It bugs me to hear the water running while someone takes on the twice-a-day mission of brushing teeth. Here’s how it should go: you rinse the toothbrush, rinse out your mouth, and turn off the faucet. In the meantime, take your time putting toothpaste on your toothbrush and brushing your teeth, turn on the faucet when you need water to rinse out your mouth. According to my little brother’s tooth-shaped hour glass that times you while you brush, you should take approximately five minutes (wooaah , I know!) to brush your teeth. If you follow that and you leave the water on, that’s five minutes of wasted water. But, aha! If you turn off the faucet, you’re saving five minutes of water. Two points for you! This should also apply when you’re washing your hands. Rinse, soap, lather, turn off the faucet, scrub, scrub, scrub, turn on faucet, rinse and voila!
For five years of my life I lived in Nairobi, Kenya with my family. I left after I graduated high school to come to college here in America but my family continued to live there for two more years. Every few years, my family would take a couple of months for furlough to my home country of Madagascar. Being back in Madagascar was where I was brutally reminded of the luxury I had living in Kenya where water came freely from a faucet. There were times, depending on where we stayed, when we would have to wake up early to boil water so we could have warm water to shower with. And when showering, the water would be in a bucket and we’d use some kind of scooping device to retrieve it and pour it over our bodies. Because the water quickly got cold, showers were definitely short and every drop of water you had in your bucket, you cherished it while you used it. In Madagascar, despite how much I disliked it, we had to buy water. If the places we stayed at had running faucets, the water coming from it was not clean and contained waterborne diseases. For our health, buying water was necessary. Back in Nairobi, we also had to buy water because of waterborne diseases. When we first arrived in Nairobi, the person introducing us to the ways of life there specifically emphasized several times that we should not swallow the water from the faucets.
At the high school I attended, every year we were required to take what was called a Cultural Field Studies trip (CFS trip). The one CFS that stood out to me was the one from my senior year. I, along with about 12 of my classmates went to Turkana, a region north of Nairobi. The trip to Turkana took two days and it was by far the hottest trip temperature wise that I had taken. As we entered the Turkanan region, the landscape changed from lush, green vegetation to shrubs and desert sand. We arrived at our home stay place, an area basically in the middle of nowhere, and all we could see for miles and miles was desert, not a good place to be without water. Because we were privileged, our school had provided us with plenty of bottled water for the trip. I remember waking up one morning and seeing women with jerrycans on their heads walking away from our location. We were told they were going on a journey to fetch water. This community was blessed because about a half a mile away from where we stayed they had a water pump, a gift from several churches here in America. We were told families came from as far as ten miles away to get water from this pump and they walked the ten miles here because it was closer than what they had to walk to get water from rivers and this water was clean. A ten-mile journey to fetch water for the day. A ten-mile walk. Ten miles. For water. And they did this everyday.
It was during this time in the desert when I realized how necessary water is. If it weren’t, these women wouldn’t be spending over half their day walking to get a jerrycan-full for their families.
Almost a billion people live without clean drinking water. That is way too many.
Amidst my passion and dedication for and to water, imagine my delight when I found a non-profit organization just as passionate and dedicated to water. This non-profit is called charity: water.
Please be more aware of how you’re using water. And pass the word along about how important water is. Join the cause to solve the water crisis. It is solvable.
And yes, whether you recognize it or not, water does indeed change everything.