The entire village is there. Dignitaries arrive. Ribbons are cut. Fireworks go off in the background. Streamers fly up in the air. Children splash and play, and prayers of dedication are prayed.
Around the world … water is celebrated. When a new well or clean water source is provided, it is commemorated in the same way that we would celebrate a grand opening, a new building dedication, a house warming, or a birthday. It is a party!
You see, they know access to clean water will change their lives … everything about their lives. So, it is something worth celebrating.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” But, our wells are never dry. We no longer know and understand the worth of water.
The truth is, we have forgotten how much of our daily life revolves around water. From the first flush of the toilet, to our shower, to brushing our teeth … our day begins with water, continues with water and ends with water.
Recently, I stood on a hillside in Africa watching young girls carrying water on their backs. I only watched part of their journey and can simply imagine how much further they had to walk. It was in the middle of the day and I couldn’t help but think what other productive things they could be doing with their time. Not to mention the hardship on their bodies carrying heavy loads for such a long distance … and at such a young age. This daily chore has been shown to literally stunt the growth of these girls leading to lifelong issues including difficulty in childbirth.
In Africa, I also stood next to the water source that my family was able to provide. You can read more about that here. On that day, water became more than a cause … more than an idea … more than a need in some far off place around the world. It was real. And the children who would benefit from this new clean water … well, they were very real too and running all around me. It hit me that this water will bathe them, clean them, and feed them. This water will truly give them life.
Over the last few years, we have learned a lot about water. We know we should recycle our water bottles. We know that the earth has a limited supply of water and that we should conserve it. And, we know that not everyone has access to clean water. But, there is one thing we still need to learn. One truth we still need to wake up to … how easy it is to make a difference.
In my book Awake, I write: It is hard to get our minds around the need for clean water … numbers like that are impossible to really grasp, and it is so easy to get overwhelmed. We must focus in on the one child we can help, on the one village where we can make the difference, and on the one story that we can change …
Tomorrow, on World Water Day, I will be running my first half marathon. (OK, so maybe more like walking … my goal is simply to finish!). And I could not do this race without water. At every aid station as I sip the one thing that will keep me going, I will be thankful. I will appreciate. I will remember the ones who still do not have access to clean water. And, I will celebrate. There may not be fireworks, or a ribbon to cut … but there will be a reason to celebrate. The life-giving gift of clean water is worth celebrating.
So this year, let’s go deeper – lets go from being aware … to being active. And let’s give people something to celebrate all around the world.