Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Do You Choose?

God has been graceful to us.  He has introduced us to the severity of needs here in His perfect timing.  This past week, I was moved to tears because of the lack of clean water here.  A three hour drive, but only 60 miles distance from our home, are communities desperate for clean water.

In one village, the children draw water from a surface water well.  They drop down a water bucket. Wait for it to sink from filling to be certain it is full.  Then they then pull it back up to the top.  After seeing the condition of the water around the concrete hole, my stomach hurt realizing they drink this water.  

Here is the surface of the water at the bottom of this cistern.
Would you drink it?  Cook with it?  Bathe with it?

After filling their containers, the women and children return down the path they came from hauling the water home balanced on their heads.

In the next village, I did not get photos of the water source, but it was a muddy, gray-water large mud puddle.  There is water available now because of the rainy season.  Several of the homes in this community had gutters in place to run the rain water into large containers.  However, in the dry season, this water source runs dry.  The village children must walk across a main highway with large trucks barreling down the road to carry water home.  (We are learning that carrying water is the job of the children and women.  You will see in the next pictures how young the children are when they begin this role for their family.)

After meeting with the Chief of this village, I noticed he had a water filter placed in the corner of his home.  Ceramic or Bio-sand filters are an excellent way to provide clean water for villages drawing from unclean sources.  These type of filters will clean the water from any water source.  However, the people using these filters must be clearly educated about the care and maintenance of the filter.  In the chief's home, which I would assume has the best water in the community, he is drinking water from a filter where the holding tank for the water is covered with algae, mold, and mildew.
Would you drink it?  Cook with it?  Bathe with it?

In the third village we visited for the day, we followed children to the water source.  Bare-footed boys and girls had their jugs in hand.  Because most of the men in this village were out farming, we trusted the women and kids to lead us to the place where they gathered water for their families.  The Red Shirt boy carries his jugs proudly as he walks to "do his job."  (There's just something about seeing children in red clothing here.  I think the bright color causes me to take notice.)

Then we arrived to see this.  

I fought back tears watching this little boy hold the cap in his mouth while he filled his water jug.

Jug after jug and bowl after bowl were filled with dirty water.

The women help each other begin the fine art of balancing the weight once it's atop their heads.

I notice this mother's protruding belly carrying a child within her, yet she still must carry the water home.

The Red Shirt boy wants to be sure I notice how strong he is carrying the filthy water.

How old are these children?  Four?  Five?  Six?  Her chubby hands tell me she is little.

And he can't be much older than she is.

The children gather the water then tramp back down the long path toward the village.
I swallow hard to fight back the tears.

Then we take a few pictures to show that, yes, we were really here.  Yes, these pictures were taken with my camera.  Yes, this is real life for these children.  Today.

I think some people would prefer to think this is not reality.  But it is.

Here's Reid and I standing beside the water source where the children collected water moments before this picture was taken.  Although I smiled for the photo, there were tears before and after from the sight I'd just witnessed.

In this picture:  Steve (MLI Staff), Kathy, Reid, Char, and Wahob (MLI Staff).

 Reid and the staff of MLI have the daunting task of making recommendations for wells after seeing the dire need in village after village.  How do you choose?  The need for clean water can be found in many places here.

Until clean water sources come to these villages, all of these children will be drinking water that can make them very sick.  Because of the lack of clean water, parasites and water-borne illnesses like malaria plague these kids...

And this child...

And these children...

And these...

And this brother and sister...

I recently read a statistic that Americans consume 150 gallons of water per day.  PER DAY!  Can you imagine how long it would take to haul this amount of water on your head?  Oh my goodness!  My guess is that the people in these villages consume less than 2 - 3 gallons per day - and that includes drinking, cooking, washing clothes and bathing.

I don't know what to suggest you "do" to help, but I would be wrong if I didn't offer one way to make a difference in some of the lives in these pictures.  These are real children.  Ones that I have touched and locked eyes with.  These are children going to bed tonight on a dirt floor after drinking parasite-ridden water all day.  Maybe God is calling YOU to do something to help them?  Will you pray about a way you can help?

Will you pray about a way you can help?  Feeding the Orphans is getting ready to launch their Change for Change Project to raise money for clean water here in Ghana.  Their Water for Life Project is making an impact.  Something as simple as collecting loose change will help.  The well FTO provided in the village of Deti is already impacting lives here!

Some people say you should only be concerned with the neighbors near you.  After all, there are needs in America.  "We should only take care of our own," becomes the mantra in some Christian circles.

"Really?"  I now ask.

  Grace must abound because of people's ignorance.  For myself, before I moved here, included.  Clean water wasn't a need "right in front of me."  It should have been.

I will leave you with just one question, what kind of water is your closest neighbor drinking?  Filtered water?  Bottled water?  Or treated city water from a tap at the sink?  

I honestly believe you can help your neighbors closest to you without ignoring the neighbors on the other side of the world.  God blesses us so that we will bless others.  (Gen. 12:1-2)

May God provide clean water for these children.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1

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