Written By: Christie A. | SOS International
We went as far as the jeep could take us on our rural trek. We were out documenting water projects, and this location was especially remote. As we walked up the narrow, dusty lanes, the heat radiated around us. After a ½ kilometer trek up the road, the little village emerged before us. All around curious children looked out their huts to see the visitors to their forgotten village. Smiles were exchanged and very quickly we all moved to the well site. It took extra effort to get the drilling rig into this community, and after hours and hours of drilling it looked like water was about to be hit. The excitement was palpable in the village, all eyes fixed on the drilling rig and this hole that was being bore deep into the earth. Suddenly the sound changed, and water began pouring out of the hole, quickly transforming dust into mud and as it irrupted so did celebration. Moms began crying in joy, children dancing, and the men couldn’t contain their excitement, in an instant this community was transformed through the gift of water. While the well casing was put in place, some local girls took us to look at where they were fetching water previously.
We trekked down a narrow, dusty path, taking turns balancing the empty water pots, with our necks quickly feeling the pain. About 10 minutes into our little walk, we emerged at the edge of a filthy lake. On the far side, cattle were wading while women did laundry. The girls we were with took the pot, filled it with water and put it on another girl’s head to carry back. We walked back towards the village and the girls explained to us that they would make this trek multiple times every day to get water for their family, while their brothers were in school and while their parents worked.
This story plays out in villages around the world every single day. In each of these communities, we find stark reminders about the vital role that water plays. There are four vital areas we see water effect: health, the local community, the local economy and peace within the region.
Children in these communities struggle from water-borne diseases, with parasites and diarrhea making for a dangerous combination for their slight frames. These communities suffer under extreme generational poverty, with little hope of life being different for their children. Very few industries can exist under such conditions and as such the availability of jobs and economic advancement is nearly impossible. The daily, real fight for water leaves these communities in shambles, with fights breaking out at every available water source because there is never enough to go around.
When you bring water to a community like this as a free, accessible-for-all gift, you transform the community. Clean water greatly improves health outcomes for children, it unlocks generational poverty, allowing girls and women to reclaim hours of their day spent fetching water to learn. It unleashes the economy in a community, allowing more jobs to be created and it promotes peace. When there is enough to go around, it is no longer neighbor vs neighbor. Instead there is enough for all and it brings people together to build communities.
Water is powerful and the gift of clean water is one that transforms communities for generations.