When I visited Rwanda years ago (before the terrible genocide there), I was a newbie to international travel. Because I was visiting someone who worked in the country, I got to see things that the average tourist did not. That included visiting several homes of the most kind and hospitable people I had ever encountered.
These homes had very little, but I was struck by the fact that they had soda and an awful (to me) fermented milk drink. It was only later that it came into focus why they were drinking those two things -- lack of clean water and any kind of refrigeration.
I was reminded of all of this recently when I visited the charity:water website. Charity:water is in the midst of its September fundraising campaign, centered on Rwanda. The organization will build what it calls large scale water projects (the wells it usually digs won't work in this terrain) in Rwanda.
You can read all about the campaign that is trying to raise $1.7 million. Charity:water is so good at doing this that I have no doubt the goal will be reached. They have already raised more than $750,000. I urge you to take a look at the information about Rwanda and see the gorgeous photos.
Rwanda is a beautiful country with a very high altitude and small farms on steep hillsides. It captured my heart when I was there and even more so as I followed the devastation it suffered during its awful war and its brave comeback.
But even if Rwanda means nothing to you, water should.
Most of the world lacks access to clean water. The idea of simply turning on a tap or flushing a toilet is pie in the sky for much of the world. The facts of water are captured graphically in this infographic that is posted on the Philantopic blog (from the Foundation Center). This is just a snippet. You can see the full graphic here.
Take a look at the water-rich lifestyle most of us live, where one piece of the paper we put in our printers every day uses up three gallons of water and that evening glass of wine we drink is the result of 32 gallons of water. Take in the fact that women and children must manually fetch the water for 76% of the world's households.
There are lots of ways we can all help.
Consume less water ourselves and donate to organizations that are working on the water problem. And we don't need to wait for a special week or a special campaign. Let's do it now and as often as we can.
For more information about water, visit World Water Day. It is held in March every year and is sponsored by the United Nations.
Photo: Children in Rwanda celebrate clean water (courtesy of charity:water); infographic by Seametrics.
- Safe Giving Guide for Donors
- How to Donate to International Emergencies
- Do's and Don'ts of Helping During a Disaster