This fantastic image is called Drinking Water and is by Anthony Asael at Deviant Art.
Today is Blog Action Day and the photo sums up what the whole day is about.
The theme is WATER.
You can go here to learn some facts about water.
But I’ll tell you some too.
Many of the facts about probably the most important human need are quite depressing. We all know about them.
Children dying from drinking dirty water.
African women walking over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.
Animals dying in the wild from lack of water due to land clearing and humans altering their habitats.
Rivers drying up.
Nearly one billion people in the world lack access to clean water.
Children are dying.
The West overconsumes water. Those DAMN plastic bottles are everywhere. I hate the bloomin’ things. Every time I see someone guzzling water from a plastic bottle I bite my bottom lip in frustration. I have scabby lips because of plastic water bottles. The whole bottled water industry is such a joke. It makes me soooo MAAADDD.
Here is a sobering Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. So they end up in landfill or more than likely in the sea.
AND IT IS SAFE FOR US TO DRINK WATER FROM THE TAP!!!!!
But I don’t want to go on and on about things we all know about.
I want to tell you a story about water.
It is a story that in many ways has changed my life.
When I first started teaching I had a boy in my class who was a refugee from Ethiopia. This was in the late eighties when Ethiopia was in the grip of famine, wide-scale drought and civil war. Remember Bob Geldof and his plans to feed the world? That aid was intended for Ethiopia.
Anyway, I had an Ethiopian boy in my class. His name was Bekele. He was 12 years old.
Bekele was the epitome of a phrase we don’t use much anymore – bright as a button. Remember when people used to say that? That’s what Bekele was. Keen to learn, interested in everything, well-mannered, a joy to teach.
Except for one thing.
Bekele couldn’t get over the taps and drinking fountains in the school playground. Sometimes he would disappear and I would find him, face right under the one of the taps, drinking away.
I can drink, he would say over and over again. It was half question, half bewildered statement. A measure of his disbelief that such a treasure could be real.
Bekele told me that his mother walked up to four hours a day to find water. In the blistering heat. Often without shoes. He showed me a flower pot that had filled with rain water – muddy, full of leaves and stringy old roots. The water looked like this, he said.
You are rich, Bekele would say to his classmates, with your water.
I have often wondered if Bekele was surprised or even annoyed by the lack of gratitude expressed by most Westerners regarding the ease with which they can access clean drinking water. I remember bringing that point up in the staff room and some of my fellow teachers saying that dirty water is not something we should feel guilty about because we are not a Third World country and it’s not an issue we will ever have to face.
But I have seen country towns in Australia where the rivers have dried up and the communities have been devastated. I know a woman whose farmer husband committed suicide due to six years of drought sending him bankrupt.
If it didn’t rain in Australia for five years ( and I mean all over Australia) we would all suddenly be faced with searching and scrounging for our water. Perhaps we wouldn’t have to walk for four hours a day like Bekele’s mother, but our consumption habits would certainly change.
We are so lucky that this is an everyday sight.
Image by highvoltagelove at Deviant Art.
We are so lucky we can just turn on the tap and drink.
Maybe we are richer than we know.
Do me a favour will you? Look at the ways your local government manages water in your area. Find out what strategies they have in place to deal with long-term drought. Find out what you can do to conserve water and stimulate rainfall.
And if you want to help kids like Bekele you can go here and sign the petition for an international water treaty so that clean drinking water can be accessed everywhere in the world or you can learn about fundraising projects such as well-building.
Water is life. It’s as simple as that.
I think it would be fair to say it is the most precious resource we have.