The other day I was strolling around Goodreads and ran across a post called Words For Water. In the wake of the Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon, the title caught my attention. I’m thrilled millions of dollars have been raised for ALS over the past few weeks, but to do so by throwing away something people desperately need is . . . interesting. I know it’s all fun and games, but I can’t help thinking for every challenge accepted, how many lives could that water have saved?
I get it, the idea of someone needing water is far removed as we sit in our homes with shiny faucets, or we walk past fifty different brands of bottled water at the grocery store, where bags of ice are less than a dollar making it super easy to fill any bucket.
I think in our world, it’s hard to imagine hardship. It’s impossible to know that something we take for granted every day is more precious than gold to others. I remember a story about a group of guests from Egypt who visited a preacher. When it came time for them to return to their country, they stole the faucets from the hotel, because they thought the stainless steel objects were miracles. They were thoroughly convinced that if they took them back home, thousands would survive. I’ll be honest here and admit the only time I think about my faucet is when I clean it.
Just how bad is it, you might be asking. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers from water.org:
783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.
6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.
Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness
Are those numbers just too big for us to understand? Millions. Not 17. Not 24. Not 500 found in a mass grave, which is equally horrific, but millions. That should be, I don’t know, horrific times a gazillion. Yet, when you read the numbers, I doubt you raised your hand to your mouth in shock, or felt that ache in your chest when you first hear about a terrible tragedy. I didn’t. The only one that made my chest hurt was the bottom number. To try and gain some perspective, 8 million people live in New York City. Every year what equates to the population of one the most famous cities in the world dies. Imagine walking down the streets in your city and every one you come across is dead.
Yet access to clean water could have saved many of them.
Read that last bullet point again. Can you believe that a child dies every 21 seconds from a water-related illness? By the time it takes you to read this post, approximately 15 children have died. Fifteen children who could have been saved by giving them clean water.
So we dump buckets of the stuff on top of our head while laughing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty, but in a different way. I waste water. I leave the faucet running when I brush my teeth. I let the water run when I’m wiping off the counters, because I’ll just need to rinse out the cloth again. So if it seems like I’m pointing fingers, I’m pointing them at myself, too. When it comes to change, though, I can only change the things about myself, it’s all any of us can ever do.
Personally, I like Charlie Sheen’s response to the Ice Bucket Challenge. He doesn’t waste the water millions of people need, and he donates all the money to the charity. People condemn him for ‘ruining’ the challenge and taking the fun out of it. Sometimes I wonder about us. We condemn someone for saving water, which saves lives, because it’s just not as ‘fun’.
Anyway, this issue, the whole Ice Bucket Challenge and waste, has been on my mind for days now. Like most of the general population, money’s tight in our household. Besides making changes at home, I wanted to get involved and raise awareness about the millions who need water, but like many, it’s hard to find a way to get involved when you don’t have the funds.
Then a door opened.
A member of Goodreads, Adriano, has a project with water.org to create an Anthology. All the money raised from the sale of the anthology will be used to help those facing a water crisis. Finally! This is my arena. I may not have thousands of dollars, but I have thousands of words, so I jumped at the chance to get involved and sent him over this poem:
Little Girl Dreams
Cas Blomberg – August 2007
Little girl dreams dance and whirl through the night
When fireflies and fairies awake and take flight,
Joining the majestic unicorns in the moonlit glade
Guarded by magical elves, resplendent in jade.
On the wind, an ancient lullaby rings
Through this land of noble queens and kings.
Butterfly chimes tinkle and sway
A princess arrives, wanting to play.
The royal dragon puffs, inviting her to tea.
Far below mermaids splash in the emerald sea
And tumbling waterfalls cast their silver spray
Upon mischievous sprites in the crystal bay.
A smile alights on the cherubic face,
As she explores the enchanted place.
Dawn is a world away, with its golden light,
So for now, tiny tender toes wink goodnight.
I’m hoping to raise awareness about the anthology and the need for clean water in the world. If you’ve got a moment, take the time to visit the site at water.org and see how you can get involved.