World Water Day was celebrated on the 22nd of March, 2018, to draw attention to the plight of millions of people throughout the world who don’t have access to clean water. The Salvation Army is one of the leading organisations making a significant difference with its Waves of Transformation initiative, which is part of the International Helping-Hand Appeal.
Most of us take water for granted. It is literally on tap for us to drink, wash, cook with, and keep our gardens lush. We don’t think twice about keeping the tap running while we brush our teeth or wash our vegetables. We mutter at the inconvenience of being without water for an hour or so while burst pipes are fixed or routine pipe maintenance carried out.
This is nothing compared to the water scarcity that affects people in villages, settlements, and impoverished areas in major cities. Not only do many of these people have to walk for hours to get to a water source, but they also risk the water being contaminated.
Numbers don’t lie
Three million people die of water-related illnesses every year. Nearly 300,000 children die every year due to poor sanitation and hygiene. This amounts to 800 children per day.
With one drop of water a time, we can take away a huge burden and enable poverty-stricken people to spend more time and attention on the things that can improve their quality of life. Access to clean water can support families through small-scale farming, and improve overall health which means children can go to school and play safely without being constantly sick.
As Ryunosuke Satoro says, “Individually we are one drop, together we are the ocean.”
The ocean is a strong force that sustains life and wears away even the hardest rock. If we all work together and each contributes to at least one drop of water, we can erode poverty and save lives.
Togetherness is vital
God did not intend us to live isolated lives to the exclusion of the rest of humanity. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gen 2:18) Community is important and so is a sense of belonging and contributing to that community.
The Salvation Army is a great example of people joining forces to work for the greater good. In Kenya, for instance, The Salvation Army has provided communities with rain harvesting tanks which allows them to collect clean and safe water. The Salvation Army has also built sand dams and installed boreholes to increase the provision of water, especially for agricultural purposes. The organisation encourages communities to work together and support one another to contribute to the wave of transformation that’s improving lives.
The difference water makes
The safe, clean water that is used for irrigation means that small-scale farmers can grow enough food to feed their families and sell the surplus at local markets so the community benefits. Some farmers also donate food to local school feeding programmes and food banks, which further supports the neediest members of the community.
Children can stay in school because they don’t have to walk long distances to collect water. They also have significantly fewer sick days as their families are no longer dependent on unclean water. The Salvation Army has carried this further by managing projects that enable schools to improve their sanitation facilities through hygienic latrines and hand-washing stations.
Another benefit is that communities and governments work together to improve healthcare services for sustained positive impact. This means that communities gain more control over their lives and feel empowered to become masters of their own future.
Take Geofrey, for example. He’s a 40-year-old father of four who lives in Kilome, Kenya, with his family. Before being supported by The Salvation Army’s water projects, he had to walk for four hours to get water from the local river.
Geofrey said, “This water was to serve both household use and for my kids to carry to school. This was very stressful both to me and my wife. My health was adversely affected by this activity.”
By this, Geofrey means the toll of carrying heavy containers of water for great distances. The amount of time spent walking to and from the river also meant that he couldn’t pay adequate attention to farming and running his small business.
Then Geofrey got a rain harvesting tank from The Salvation Army’s schools and community water project. “I now have access to clean water. My children are no longer in danger of getting water-borne diseases. The pressure is gone and I engage in my small business and small-scale farming to get income for my family. My kids are performing better at school.”
Geofrey pays his change for fortune forward, working with other people in the community to support the project’s work at a local school. “I have learnt the importance of helping others.” What better lesson than that?
You too can empower people in need beyond the UK’s borders by volunteering your skills and abilities to aid The Salvation Army’s international projects. The Salvation Army always needs people with practical skills to help raise funds so it can continue its good work.
During 2018, Salvation Army Family Ministries groups and corps [churches] across the UK and Ireland will raise money for Waves of Transformation through the Helping-Hand Appeal. Order a FREE fundraising pack by calling 020 7367 4956 or download all of the resources HERE.