Honestly, I’ve never thought a lot about water. Like you, I’ve heard all the statistics and have seen the pictures of children drinking from dirty mud puddles in third world countries. But I’ve always lived in an area with clean running water. I’ve never had to think about water other than wishing we had a little less of it in the Pacific Northwest. And while I know the statistics are astounding (and honestly statistics are boring so I’m not going to include any in this post) and I know it is sad that children are dieing because of illnesses they are contracting from contaminated water, I’ve never been in a position where it effected me or I could do something about it. Until now.
As I write this I’m sitting in the apartment in Guatemala that Trina and I have called home for the last 3 weeks. In this apartment we have running water but it isn’t safe to drink. You can use it to shower, flush the toilet, and wash your toothpaste spit down the drain but that is about it. Beyond that we have to boil it to wash dishes or to give our son Asher a bath (in case he swallows any of it). For Asher’s bottles, for drinking, and for cooking we have to buy 5 gallon bottles of purified water. Even those you have to be careful where you buy them because they may or may not actually be safe. As I look over my shoulder I see we have about 2 and a half gallons of water left. We go through a little under 10 gallons a week. Usually there are a couple of different water trucks that come by that I purchase the water from. For some reason this week I missed them both. That means in the next couple of days we’ll be out of water. I will have to walk about a mile into town to the grocery store where I believe I can buy some water and then hike it back the mile to our apartment.
We’re Sick From Our Water
Even then we aren’t safe. Right now my stomach hurts. Trina is laying on the couch missing class today and feeling very sick. Asher was up at 3AM this morning throwing up and has had bad diarrhea. We’ve been sick for close to 4 days and not really sure why. As I type I’m hoping my phone will ring to tell me we have an appointment to get Asher in to see a doctor. Chances are he has a parasite. Chances are we all have a parasite and we know now that the water we’ve been drinking is contaminated. I have spent most of my day sanitizing bottles and dishes and boiling what water we do have.
This is Life and Death
My issues with water are small – minuscule. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m comparing them in any way to the real life and death situation many face everyday when it comes to water. I only tell the story to help bring it a little closer to home. We personally have a little better understanding what it means to actually have to think about water on a daily basis – do I have enough of it, is it safe, how am I going to get more? In Honduras, where we will be living in just over a week, the issues with water are real. In the city you may have running water but it isn’t safe to drink. However, most of the poor people living in the hillside neighborhoods surrounding Tegucigalpa have no running water. Their water is delivered by a water truck. This water isn’t safe for you or I to drink but for these people they have no other choice. This unsafe water is expensive and even then not always available as the dirt roads on these hillsides become unusable when it rains.
Just as water caused Trina to miss class today, water is causing many children in these neighborhoods to miss class everyday. Some miss class because they are sick from the water. Others miss class because they need to work to help their families afford to buy water. This is devastating to the child’s chances to make a better life for himself or herself. Without education the chances of a good job are slim.
Manos Extendidas, the ministry we are working with in Honduras, operates 2 feeding centers in these neighborhoods. Over 150 kids receive a meal on a daily basis and over 300 on the weekends. There are veins of fresh, drinkable water running underground in these hillsides. It is possible to dig a well at our feeding centers that would provide fresh, safe, cheap water to children and families who desperately need it. We are currently working to raise the funds necessary to complete a well drilling project.
What if We Don’t?
False religions are growing in Honduras. The people are desperate for hope and are being fooled. We have an opportunity right now to dig these wells in the name of Jesus Christ before others do. If we don’t I fear that the cost may be eternal. We are still in the early stages of planning this project but if you would like to help and be a part of this life giving opportunity please contact us and we’ll get you the details on how you can help.
I’ve been working on this post for several days and since then some of the details of our story with water have changed. I decided not to change the post because what I said was real to us in that moment. The three of us are still sick. Yesterday we took Asher to the doctor and found out he does not have a parasite or bacteria infection and it is more than likely a virus. Our water was contaminated and I have had to do a lot of work to get things sanitary again; however, I can’t say with certainty that the virus came from the water. That is something I don’t know. And our need for water was solved with the help of a new friend we met here who drove me to the store to get more water.