• Every 10 seconds a child dies due to disease linked to dirty water.
• 1.4 billion children in the world have no access to clean water near their homes.
• The average U.S. citizen uses 90 gallons of water every day.
• The average person in sub-Saharan Africa uses 14 gallons of water a day.
Drip. Drip. Drip. You’re trying to get to sleep and the bathroom faucet won’t stop that intolerable drip. You put the pillow over your head.
Drip. Drip. Drip. You fervently hope another household member is also aggravated and will roll out of bed to try to stop the drip. You know it’s going to take a trip to the hardware store in the morning to really make it stop.
Do a few choice words wander across your tired brain? Or do you make a totally bizarre response and say a prayer of gratitude for the water that flows so freely into your home?
Dim Yen, 29, fans herself with a large green leaf as she stands in the doorway of her thatched home in a small village in central Cambodia. She waves to us as we perspire on the muddy road up to her house, which stands on stilts to protect it from frequent floods. When we’ve mounted the steep steps, Yen offers us water to quench our thirst. We respond with a typically North American phrase: “Thanks, we’re dying for a glass of water!”
“No,” she says, “We’re dying for a glass of water.”
The Lutheran World Federation came to her village four years ago to drill one deep well and teach about the necessity of clean water. Yen was selected to be the chair for the village’s water committee. She learned that in the rainy season it’s extra important to guard against waterborne disease. Today she continues to struggle with moms who scoop up water from ponds or rice paddies. The death rate among children under 5 due to diarrhea is astounding. Globally, 60 percent of infant deaths are linked to infectious and parasitic diseases, most of which are water-related.
Yen said that four years ago much of the standing water in her village was contaminated by human and animal feces. Washing your hands in the water only made them dirtier. Thanks to the LWF’s well, her village now has clean water—just a 10-minute walk from her house. Early each morning, she threads four buckets onto a long pole and makes that walk. She enjoys the morning sounds. Birds and monkeys chatter in the trees. The path is filled with other women with the same task. On the way home, she walks slowly, trying not to spill. At home she sets a pot of water over the fire. Soon she has hot water for tea, washing hands and faces, and cooking rice and a load of laundry.
Yen works with families, encouraging them not to let up in teaching children about safe drinking water. She regularly checks the safety of the well water and reports to a regional water board. Although the LWF is no longer in her village, she remembers us well and is thankful for this water for life.
In almost every country in which we work, the LWF has water projects. We dig wells, build dams, teach water purification and hygiene, and help build water catchment facilities. Because of the LWF, tens of thousands of families today have clean water.
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