When you’re president of a safe water nonprofit that works exclusively in rural Niger, West Africa, and a visit is due, you plan the trip. When you’re assured ahead of time by your trusted partner, the large, security-conscious humanitarian organization, World Vision, that it’s safe to go, you don’t think twice.
If the answer is absolutely nothing or what the heck are you talking about, don’t worry. Although 2015 is the last year of the UN’s International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015, their website for World Water Day leaves a lot to be desired. Links take you to the bottom of the page you requested rather than the top, the list of suggested activities for the day is somewhat lacking and the map showing events for World Water Day bizarrely insists that all 13 events in the US are being held in a small corner of Kansas (they are not). Oh, and there is the now obligatory request to use a hashtag on the day. That may be great for awareness, but it is unlikely to give someone access to clean water.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Brush your teeth? Drink coffee? Take a shower? I bet that within the first hour of your day you are somehow using safe water. Safe water is so available, that we often overlook its importance.
According to the Water Resources Assessment of Guatemala compiled, US Army Corps of Engineers explains that, “The quality of surface water resources is generally fresh except along the coastal areas of the country. However, based on established biological and chemical standards, every water body in the country should be considered contaminated. In agricultural areas, pesticides are a primary source of contamination. Sewage from Guatemala City has caused the Rio Villalobos, which receives 60 percent of the sewage, and the Rio Las Vacas, which receives the remaining 40 percent of the sewage, to be considered the most contaminated streams in the country.”
As tornadoes sweep across the country, destroying anything and anyone in their way, people are left with broken hearts and crumbled hope. As the foundation of Earth is wiped out, so too are an abundance of innocent lives. A horrific act of nature, unplanned and unwelcome, can shake the lives of many, turning their world upside down in the matter of seconds. Though right now the pain is raw, views clouded by the grief, I truly believe there is something we can all learn from these experiences. It may take months or even years, but the struggles we must trek through in this life will shape us into warriors, filled with valuable wisdom and a strong soul.
According to worldbank.org, the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in the United States is $52,340. A little bit more than mine, but still less than 1% of Sandra Bullock’s income. According to World Vision, the Gross National Income of a person in Niger is $360 per year. This is less than 1% of the GNI per capita in the United States (.7% to be exact). The conclusion here, folks, is that, on average, those in Niger make roughly the same percentage of our income that we make of Sandra Bullock’s income. And, let’s face it, Sandra Bullock is RICH. To a Nigerien, you are rich.
Saturday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. Over the last couple of decades the UN, who first officially observed this day in 1977, has promoted different themes each year. This year’s theme is ‘Equality for Women is Progress for All.’ This theme can certainly be recognized in Niger, and it is only fitting to look at a Nigerien woman who embodies the truth of this statement. Hadijatou Mani Koraou is an inspiring Nigerien figure who managed to break free from the shackles of slavery and gain her independence, making a better life for herself and her family. Crucially, her case shows not just the importance of personal independence, but also the necessity of financial independence for women.
I’m using the Wells Bring Hope Blog to boast. I’m going to be a father, yay for me! I will resist the urge to delve into every detail of my wife’s pregnancy, even though every change, every developmental stage is fascinating to me. I will resist because I know that we are not the only ones who have ever had a child, and keeping people up to date with day-by-day progress is not some sort of world service, documenting a never before seen phenomenon.
A couple of years ago, Marcy Norton heard Gil Garcetti speak about the water crisis and the work that Wells Bring Hope is doing to combat it. When her next birthday rolled around, Marcy, along with her mother Rita, decided to start a Water Circle with the goal of raising enough money to fund a well. A little over a year later, she reached her goal! In celebration of her success, she sent the following email out to her friends and family:
Happy Valentine’s Day