Hauling water

One of my girlfriends went camping over Labor Day. Not necessarily a big deal. Lots of people camp. Only she was camping the old-fashioned way — bag on the ground.

It had been a while since my girlfriend camped. It had been awhile since she had to crawl around on all fours that way. There was one other thing she forgot about — bathrooms and how the need for them has increased with age.

We have three bathrooms in our home. For two people.  There are two showers. Two tubs. Three johns.

We have four faucets with running water. There’s a water filter, newly replaced, on the kitche faucet and there’s even a water cooler in the corner because I’m suspect of the local water so we get the big tub of bottled water. And we had oodles of bottled water on the shelves in the garage. Mostly leftovers from driving trips.

There is water to brush our teeth, to flush our toilets, to wash our clothes, to scrub our hinneys and make them shiney. There’s water for boiling tea, dumplings, and chicken. There’s even water enough to bathe the dog a couple of times a week.

When I was a young girl visiting my Great Aunt Cil, we’d have to cart water from the well in the front yard to the house. That required walking off the front porch, across the yard, lowering the pail into the well, or pumping it and then carrying it back to the house and pouring it into various pails or basins that Cil had set out for cooking or cleaning. Cil didn’t have indoor plumping. The toilet was a two-seater out back, replete with Sears catalogs for your viewing pleasure.

As a kid I didn’t think much about the hardship of life without water. Even at Cil’s the well never ran dry. And had it, the Holston River was just up the road a ways. We could have run up the road to get water.

I never really thought much about the convenience of water until 2003 when I made a trip to Vietnam. When we were in the big cities — Saigon and Hanoi, DaNang and Hoi An — water was easily and readibly accessible. But that wasn’t the case when we traveled to the more remote regions of the country.

There, in those regions, potable water was sparse. Many communities didn’t have wells. We had to be more careful about the foods we ate. Most everyone fell sick once we entered the rural areas, which was a problem because bathrooms simply didn’t exist. It was considered a blessing if you could find a shady spot in a rubber plantation to squat. After awhile, we simply didn’t care any more. By the time we reached Bong Son, we were squatting alongside the abandoned airstrip. There is documentary photographic evidence that water and all its conveniences was hard to come by.

Evidence that serves to remind me that a ton of people spend a goodly portion of their lives doing nothing other than collecting water.

They have to.

Without faucets in their homes and wells in their front yard, without water coolers in the corners and water bottles in their garage, they are compelled to walk ungodly distances to collect water.

Have you ever tried to haul water? Even the gallon or so collected in a tin bucket is heavy. It’ll wrench your wrists, tweak your elbows and yank on your shoulders. Imagine carrying it over dusty dirt roads barefoot for miles.

The folks over at CharityWater.org are concerned about the billion-and-counting folks who are forced to make do with whatever source of water they can find — be it a pool of pond scum or dung-infested run-off. Did you know that bad water kills over more people every year than any other form of violence, including war?

Clean water is said to be the best antibiotic on the planet. That’s why the doctor urges you to wash your hands constantly, especially during flu season. Bad water and lack of sanitation accounts for 80 percent of all diseases. Children are the most susceptible to grave illness as a result of unclean water.

I know, right?

I’m not telling you all this to make you feel bad, or even to feel grateful, though both would be appropriate responses. I’m telling you this because there’s a group of bloggers who have partnered with Charity Water in an effort to raise $30,000 in 30 days.

This year’s September Campaignwill bring clean and safe drinking water to the Bayaka people in Central African Republic – one of the poorest and most remote countries in the world.  100% of the money raised will directly fund sustainable water projects.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for awhile know that I don’t solicit funds often and I don’t do it without checking out the organization first. All of CharityWater’s financials are available here.

Now, I know $30,000 sounds like a lot of money. It is a lot of money. I’m not asking you for that. I’m asking you to go toCharityWater.organd donate $20 from your grocery fund, or your recreation fund or from your Christmas fund. Twenty dollars. That’s four trips to Starbucks. One run to the store for bread and milk. One sixth of what you’ll spend at your next Wal-Mart visit. It’s a trip to the movies and a box of popcorn. It’s half a tank of gas.

What it means for the folks in Central Africa, though, is clean water.

And for the children, it means everything.

I realize that some of you may not be in a position to give $5 $10 or $20. I understand. Trust me. I do. There are other ways you can help. Pass this blog along to a friend who is able to give. Post it on your own blog, or to your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Tell somebody. Anybody.

Thanks friends.

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