I mentioned in a previous blog how much deeper my passion for clean water became after the birth of my daughter. But, I didn’t spend much time explaining that sentiment then and wanted to dedicate an entire post to it, since it’s so critical to my work – and so important that others understand this human disparity.
Water Here and Water There
It is so easy to take our conveniences for granted here in the US. And, why wouldn’t we? Having comfort in knowing that we have ready access to our basic necessities – even the poorest of us in this country – is a peace of mind that we should appreciate and enjoy. But, we do live without understanding what a luxury this would be to many other people in different parts of the world.
In any tragic situation, it is the infants and children that suffer the most, and the water crisis is no exception. A child dies every 20 seconds from a water born illness. That is an appalling statistic, but it’s just a statistic. It’s a number, and most of us have never met anyone affected by this injustice.
But, I have. I have shared tea with women in the African bush who wept in front of me over the loss of their children to typhoid and cholera. Who explained to me that they are so weak and tired at the end of a long, hot day carrying forty pounds of water on their backs for six miles to have water for their children who have survived. Who lie awake with lung pain from inhaling the smoke that bellows off the fires they need to boil the water. Who have plans to start businesses and get educations for themselves and their families – but they can’t because their lives are devoted to getting water and fighting the disease and strife from their lack of access.
A New Gift of Empathy
I learned of these heartbreaking realities when I first started my work in Kenya, and it fueled my passion to be a part of a solution for these women and their families. But, it wasn’t until I had my daughter two years ago, that I was gifted a daily reminder that the preciousness and power of clean water is something to be deeply grateful for.
I remember waking one night to my daughter’s crying when she was only about three or four months old. My team was in Kenya at the time implementing a water well – a trip that I would have been on if my sweet baby girl had not just entered my life.
I had just spoken with my team a couple of hours before to hear their report on new communities that needed our help. There was one location in particular in which a woman had just lost every one of her children to diarrheal disease. She plead with our travelers to help ease the pain of her community by guiding them to a solution for water.
In the dark and still night at home, while I held my baby in the dark and rocked her gently, she nursed furiously and kneaded my shirt. She was so healthy and so perfect. I was healthy, too, and able to provide a plentiful and nutrient-rich supply of food to her. Her thick hair smelled of baby shampoo and her soft, clean skin felt like silk. It was blissful.
But, that moment of bliss was mixed with a heavy mourning for the mother I heard about just hours before. I felt so grateful and so desperate all at once. I felt connected to the mother in Kenya. I didn’t understand why our lives had to be so different, but I understood, more that ever, how I could now better pursue my mission.
Effective Water Charity Requires a Focus on Women and Children
It was out of that moment that our focus on women and children was born. It’s a statistical truth that investing in women is great for the economy anywhere. But, it’s a truth in humanity that the deepest connection to life and wellness in the communities we work with lies within the women there. And, they, along with the men and children, guide us to know how we can best serve them and their families. We are a better and more effective organization now, as a result of this respect and deference.
I have my daughter to thank for my realization of this very important piece of our work – as well as every woman I encounter in the field who shares her story with me.
Change the Future with Me
Now, when I have a long and stressful day, and I have to muster the strength to be patient and calm, I think about the mothers I know in rural Kenya who nurture families with only the smallest fraction of what I have here. I feel gratitude, as well as a renewed passion for my work – every single day. Because, we can make a difference for thousands of families though the effective water philanthropy our organization has built. We have seen health and prosperity emerge in the most desperate places – children are healthy, and mothers are free to start businesses and become educated.
We can change the futures of these women with clean water.
I hope that you will join me in transforming the lives of these mothers and their families. Please browse the rest of our website for more information on how to get involved. Please also share this on your social media pages to help us spread the word about how to make a big impact for people who need it most.