Being wealthy is a relative term. It depends on where you draw the comparison. When I read the stories of the women in Africa who walk dozens of miles each day in the heat to retrieve usually dirty water for their families, it is confirmed I am wealthy. I’m able to draw a pitcher of water on command from several sources in my home alone. I’m able to keep my home free from disease caused by sanitation waste because I can flush a toilet, wash dirt from my body and dishes down the drain. I can grow my own food a few steps from my door because I have three hoses around my home that can water the raised beds and berry vines. Yes, I am wealthy. In summertime, I’m even decadent by letting my children run in the sprinklers and enjoy the neighborhood pool.
I want to share 15 year old Jean Bosco’s story.
Shy and sturdy, he carried an empty 5-gallon Jerry can on his head with a banana as the cork.His days were filled with little more than water fetching. Four to five times a day, every day, he walked. Back and forth, to and fro, the monotony would bring to me to the brink – but daily he woke up to walk.
In an effort to better understand his story, the team from charitywater.org decided to join him. They eventually came to a brown, murky, stagnant pond. Small crowds of people filled their cans and despite the smell, Jean Bosco didn’t hesitate to wade right into the water in order to fill his Jerry Can.
Leaving the hole and heading back toward Jean Bosco’s home, they passed leagues of crops and farmers. I can’t imagine how this brackish substance was being used to drink, cook, bathe, plant and water animals.
The following day, cement was laid and it dried around the tubing of the well. Waiting for the hand pump to be installed, a community of men, women and children gathered again to watch the finishing touches. This creation, this simple new contraption, would change their lives forever. And then, just like that, it was done. The workers jumped forth and pumped up and down as quickly as they could. As soon as water hit the spout, the crowd rose in huge cheers of celebration.
The children made a mad dash for the water, drinking, bathing and basking in their refreshment. Like liquid magic, joy swept the crowd.
The water gushing out was naturally filtered and free from parasites. Together they all drank. Though they had known it would be clean water, it was never imagined it would be this clean. Every last one of us should have access to this kind of clean water.
For this village, Murinja, the well means a nearby clinic will finally be able to treat the sick with healthy water. For Jean Bosco, it means less walking and never needing to boil out the inevitable diseases that come from stagnant pools of unclean water. Eventually, with more disposable time, efficiency and better health, children like Jean Bosco will be able to rebuild this community. They will be able to create a more developed, safe and thriving home — thanks to the presence of clean, life-sustaining water.
Photos by Esther Havens. Jean Bosco’s Story by Esther Havens and Taylor Walling.
I bring this up to remind us to take water conservation seriously – from not wasting it in our yards, washing our cars at home, 20 minute showers, and to the Phantom Flush we are always talking about. Check around your yard at the hose spigots. Turn them on, turn the hose on and check for drips, leaks, and sprays from the spigot where the two connect. Inside, check your sinks for drips, toilets for steady flow after the flush is over. DIY it if you can. If you need help, let Casey’s Plumbing know – they’ll get out there right away.
We can all play a part in lifting the world, even by just turning off the faucet. Start today.