This I Believe

Gary - Kansas City, Missouri
Entered on December 10, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Safe Water Isn’t Only for Some

While saying that everyone in the world should have access to safe drinking water isn’t controversial, believing that everyone can is a different matter altogether. But that’s what I believe, and that’s what I have committed my life to achieving.

Twenty-two years ago I had a life changing experience in the slums of Guatemala when I watched a little girl with black hair and a determined expression dipping into a 55-gallon barrel of contaminated water. Heaving the water can into her arms she walked alongside a stream of open sewage back to her shack. At that moment, I knew what my life was going to be about –safe drinking water for those in need. This experience eventually led me to co-found WaterPartners International, a nonprofit based in Kansas City that helps people in developing countries gain access to safe drinking water.

WaterPartners vision – my vision – is the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water.

More than one billion people, about one in six, lack access to safe drinking water. I know statistics like these are numbing, but if you really stop to think about what they mean, it’s absolutely astounding. Today, in a century of so much progress, diarrhea is the leading cause of death for children under five in the developing world. This doesn’t require some magic cure – it simply requires access to safe water.

The ripples benefits of a safe water access are astounding. In the village of Ponnuansangampatti, India, access to safe drinking water has made a world of difference to a young woman named Gandhamani. Since her village water project was completed and she obtained a water connection in her home, her family’s health has improved dramatically. She also doesn’t have to walk long, back-breaking distances to collect water – water that was often contaminated. And the wastewater that runs from the drainage area around her tap she channels to a garden. Gandhamani has planted several banana trees, which provide food for her family, and the surplus can be sold for income at market.

Water is a basic necessity for life and a human right. So much pain and suffering can be eliminated for a huge proportion of humanity with something as simple and as inexpensive as access to safe drinking water. I hope everyone will take the time to learn about this huge but silent crisis of the poor, and join together to help end it. Everyone deserves safe water, and it’s possible for this basis necessity to become reality for the world’s poor. This I believe.