Monday, October 20, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere...or Not

Water, or a lack of water, is not something I ever thought about before we moved to South Africa. If I was thirsty, I went to the sink, turned on the tap and got myself a drink. If my kids came in all filthy from playing outside, I’d just fill the tub with water and wash them off, and if the water was too dirty for both kids to use, I’d drain the tub and fill it up again with fresh water for kid number 2. If we had wanted to water our lawn, which we didn’t, we could have attached a hose and sprinkler to the outside faucet and watered to our hearts content. We were paying for the use of all this water, but other than the minimal cost, we never gave our water, or where it came from, much thought.
Living in South Africa has given me many chances to become more aware of water and how having ready access to clean water is a luxury and not something to be taken for granted. There have been several occasions since we moved here in 2011 that have given us a small taste of life without the convenience of clean, running water.

Just a couple weeks ago our tank wasn’t filling and we were without running water for a few days. We used a bucket of pool water to flush the toilet, we filled bottles of water at a neighbor and purchased a few bottles of drinking water at the store, we took sponge baths using the bottled water, we thought twice before having a cup of tea or coffee, the mamas were hand washing laundry using pool water.  We praise God that our tank has been filling again regularly, even without a heavy rain. We know that He is providing for us and trust Him to continue to do so.

However, even though we had a few days where we couldn’t just turn on the tap for a quick drink, I would still count us as some of the lucky ones. We had a pool full of decent water to use for a variety of needs and could have boiled this water for drinking if needed. We had neighbors who were kind enough to share their limited clean drinking water with us. We had stores within close distance where we could buy drinking water and we had the money to do so.

Even in a situation that was less than ideal, we were still among the minority of the world’s population in that we had easy access to water (the pool) and the resources to easily get more water as needed (money, transport and social connections). For many people, even when they have close access to water, it isn’t clean. Many others do not even have water close by, but must spend a good part of the day going back and forth from the source of water to their home.

When an area that already struggles with finding clean drinking water is hit by a natural disaster, the situation becomes even bleaker. Such is the case in the Philippines, which was hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Yes, clean drinking water is available for purchase in the larger cities, but this water is too far away and far too expensive for the rural citizens. Some of these people are in areas so remote that even a year after the typhoon they haven’t yet been reached by international aid.

As many of you might know, Darin has been distributing Sawyer water filters here in South Africa, as well as Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe for about 2 years. He could explain the science of the filters to you, as he did with Tyson and Jori’s classes at school during career week, but you know how a picture often says a thousand words? Well, that is true for these filters as well when you see dark brown water go in and clear, clean water come out.

Darin’s business partner Mark, who is also the son in law of Chris Harding, the director of Tshepo ya Bana, has been working in the Philippines for the past 5 months. Because of his knowledge and history with Sawyer filters, when he started to get out into the rural areas and see how the majority of people are still living with the consequences of typhoon, he knew right away of one way he could help; by providing a clean water solution.

So along with Darin’s help, Mark has started distributing a few filters in and around Tacloban. As you can see from these pictures, this has made a big difference for the families he’s been able to help. Mark has met so many other people who would benefit from these filters, which is why he and Darin set up a site to raise funds in order to distribute filters to people who are truly in need.

While distributing Sawyer filters is part of Darin’s business, he is not benefiting from the sale of these products. He and Mark saw a need, knew they had a solution, and want to help get these filters into the hands of people who need them.

Try to imagine going to your sink tonight only to find there is no water available. Imagine keeping your children home from school so that they can help fetch water for your family instead. Try to picture what this water source would most likely look like, not a pristine lake or river flowing through a field of pretty flowers, but a muddy hole containing water potentially infected with cholera and E coli. Now imagine these scenes happening day after day, fetching water, seeing your children get sick from the dirty water they are drinking, being thirsty and not having the luxury of turning on a tap to get a quick drink.

To learn more, please check out this link, and while you are there, please consider donating to this cause.

1 comment:

Verna Griffin said...

It’s good to hear that your stay in South Africa taught you about the importance of saving water. While one can have a huge supply of water, it is something one should not take for granted. You might enjoy its abundance today, but it’s hard to tell if you can have even a single drop tomorrow. I hope this post helps spread awareness on the matter, so that everyone could learn and participate in this cause. Thanks for sharing!

Verna Griffin @ Axeon Water Technologies

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