1 in 6 people on the planet does not have access to clean water. In round numbers that’s about a billion people.
It’s hard to imagine life without clean water because in the U.S. we have so much of it. In fact, we’re so rich, we play in it. [Disclaimer: This video contains one profane word.]
Did you laugh? It’s that last part that I think drives the point home. He says, “Yuck, I got some in my mouth!” The water we swim in is not fit to drink? Yet, if you served it over ice, it would probably not kill you as fast as the dirty mud holes and contaminated rivers of Africa. Like the water these kids are pulling from the river. There are people working on clean water throughout the world. Children’s HopeChest, Charity:Water, Healing Waters, and Water4Christmas are just a few of the organizations making a difference. Check them out, get involved. It’s cheaper and easier than you think to bring clean drinking water to children.
But beyond this, I want you to take time to talk with kids about water usage. What’s funny about the clip above is that it exposes a ridiculous dichotomy in our world. On the one hand you have billions of people who are killed by waterborne disease because of dirty water. On the other there’s us, frolicking through the water parks. If you are going swimming this summer, you have an opportunity to teach your kids about the value of clean water while they are at the pool
Try this. The next time you are at the pool and lunchtime rolls around, take out your cups and go to the pool and fill them with water. Hopefully this will surprise your children. And you might get a few “gross” or “eewwww” type comments out of them. Use this moment to tell them about the global water crisis. Teach them that the water in the cups–although dirty to them–is far cleaner than the water that children around the world drink. Tell them the stories of children who instead of going to school must instead hunt for water to carry back to their families.
Here’s another exercise you can do with them. Make them carry an entire bath load of water from the backyard hose to their tub. This is how 1 billion and more people fetch their water each day. The key here is to help your kids walk in the shoes of another child a world away. As they are contemplating drinking pool water, or straining their muscles carrying bucket loads of bathwater to their tub, you are challenging what our culture tells them is normal.
Water parks may be a first world invention, but you can use them this summer to teach unforgettable lessons to your kids. And that’s a good thing because to fix the global water crisis, we’ll need the help of the next generation–and sooner is better.