One activity our group anticipated throughout our trip was the water walk we were going to go on with a couple of the local mothers. As such, the morning of the walk, we had no issue getting up early so that we could go out and meet the mothers without holding back their daily routine.
We walked out to their homes to meet them, and they showed us around. Their homes were very different from my own, but amazingly kept and loved. One of the mothers talked a bit about how she would spread new layers of cow dung and mud on to the walls to maintain them – it was clear that much care was put into their homes. In one of the homes, we saw numbers and equations sketched onto one of the walls – her kids were clearly bright and dedicated.
After this, they led us to where they collect water – we were surprised when they actually began to lead us back towards our camp. You see, there was a pond of sorts right by our camp, but it just hadn’t crossed my mind that that was where we were going. Perhaps because I’d only seen livestock drinking from it before. As such, I wasn’t surprised when we had to step over feces to get to the water.
We stood there, just watching as the two mothers filled up their plastic jerrycans with this brown water. Then they helped us loop the rope around our forehead and rest the jerrycan on our backs so that we could start the treck towards their homes.
I had already eaten a hearty breakfast, was given a headband to make it easier, and had a partner to switch off with. We only had to do it once, but it was surprisingly cold, and windy, and hard. And so, by the end of the walk, I was feeling almost proud that I had accomplished a fraction of what these mothers do every day.
But then, when we reached their homes, we saw that their children had come home. They wore the uniform for the Esinoni Primary School, the school we often visited to laugh and dance and play with the most awe-inspiring kids I’ve ever known. And it hit me again that they were drinking this water. That when my trip was done, I’d go home to drinkable water pouring out of a tap – while these amazing human beings would still be here, with no reliable source of clean drinking water.
And I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. All I knew was that something was wrong – and that it would kill something inside of me to do nothing about it.
We’ve all probably heard stats about lack of access to clean water. If not, here’s one for you – almost 900 children die a day from diarrheal diseases caused by a lack of access to clean water and sanitation.
But now, these aren’t anonymous numbers for me – they are the faces of some of the most remarkable people I know.
Fortunately, as of late 2017, my friends in the community of Esinoni have access to clean water through a borehole. But many other’s friends do not.
And so, I implore you, to look at a statistics and see not numbers, but people – and to ask yourself how you can help.