Thursday, October 14, 2010


I remember walking in my crisp doc martin shoes down the steep, narrow, red dirt road. It was hot. I wore a long flowery skirt with a soft-cornered short sleeve button down white shirt. I carried a pack full of books. I focused on dodging the rocks and holes in the road to avoid twisting my ankle in my clonky new shoes. The road disappeared as I rounded the corner and continued on into the wild tall weeds and grass. Then, I saw it. It was a house. It was very small. There were little kids running in and out of the open door, smiling shyly at us. It wasn't until we had spent a few minutes talking with the mother and father that I noticed that the small, leaning house was completely made out of cardboard. The floor inside was dirt. There was a little hand broom by the entrance where we stood. The father collected cardboard boxes from behind convenience stores in the city (where the main streets were still constructed of cobblestone). They flattened the boxes and added them to stabilize the walls and ceiling of their home. I wasn't sure why they had chosen this spot of land. It was so far from any other houses and stores. I followed one of the children outside, who was motioning for me to come see something. There was a small brook directly behind the home. The mother explained to me that they used the water in the brook for everything, even drinking. I imagined the families that we had met further up the stream that used the water for washing and bathing. Then I thought of the animals. I swallowed the lump in my throat. The family's happiness was contagious. The children were bright-eyed and healthy. How could they be subsisting on water that was filthy and likely contaminated?

We went back to visit, to find they had left. Later, I found out why: the heavy summer rains in Paraguay had begun. Their house has been flooded and washed completely away.

Water is powerful in that is sustains life and also threatens life.

So many people live without access to clean and safe water, and live in danger of water's powerful capabilities.

Today is Blog Action Day 2010, this year focused on Water. (Many blogs are posting about Water.)

I looked at a few charities that deal with water in underdeveloped countries. WaterAid America is a charity, (receiving four stars from charity navigator), that provides clean and safe water and sanitation for communities in Africa and Asia. It has a wonderful grassroots component that allows for community participation and sustainability. I would love to work with this charity some day.

Hopefully the blog posts about water today will serve as powerful reminders to those of us who take water for granted - to remember those who don't.

1 comment:

Glenn Meder said...

Great post Liz. The story hit the point so much stronger than just simply stating the facts. We also posted on Blog Action Day. Check it out if you're interested.