What I Saw…

I climbed this mountain with 5 gallons of water on my back.

I have hiked through mountains with a five-gallon water bladder strapped to my backpack. It was not pleasant.

But that was just a day or two each year when we would hike to a “dry” Camp at Philmont Scout Ranch. I cannot imagine doing that every single day of my life, just so I can have water.

You learn in elementary school (if not before) how important water is. We bathe in it. We clean our dishes with it. We do our laundry with it. We use it to flush away waste. Shoot, a large percentage of our bodies is made up of the stuff. So we need to drink it. Constantly. It’s a huge part of life. And, as we’ve seen all too well with Mihret’s swallowing issues, a lack of hydration can lead to all kinds of health problems. And, ultimately, death.

We know that.

But we take it for granted because all we have to do is turn a faucet and we have clean, clear water at our fingertips. Hiking miles with five gallons of water strapped to our backs is something that we do to stretch ourselves. It’s definitely not something we do out of necessity.

Just a very small fraction of the amount of people we saw that Sunday morning.

That’s not what I saw when I was in Ethiopia last year. When we left Addis Ababa for our trek to the southwest region, we encountered an endless stream of humanity all morning long. Many were on their way to or from their respective houses of worship and Sunday morning celebrations.  Many were carrying jugs. For water. And they literally had to walk uphill both ways to bring it home.

When I was at Philmont, we had iodine tablets we would use to purify the water we’d carried with us to the “dry” Camp. And while we were in Ethiopia, we went to great lengths to ensure that we didn’t drink the water, taking bottled water wherever we went, ordering bottled drinks whenever we could, and using hand-sanitizer ad nauseum. These people I saw didn’t have such luxury. Many of them were drinking contaminated water that would make them sick. It could even kill them.

And for the fortunate few who lived in the towns and cities and had running water? Most cannot flush anything down their toilets. Anything. I’ll spare you the gory details because Christy and I swore we would never mention it to each other again. But it gets nasty quickly. The potential for the spread of disease is surely increased because of these unsanitary conditions.

It’s a sad thing, isn’t it? The very thing that is supposed to give us life is causing many people to die.  Children are losing their siblings. Children are losing their parents. Children are losing their own lives. Not just in Ethiopia, but around the world. This is a problem that has reached pandemic levels around the world.

It doesn’t have to stay this way, however. We, you and I, can begin to change this story today. Here are a few things we can do right now to help bring life-giving water to everyone:

These are just a few small ideas. Much like Sara Groves was changed by her encounter in Rwanda, I have been changed by what I saw in Ethiopia.

I saw what I saw in Ethiopia. And I cannot ignore it.

None of us can.

**This post is my contribution to Blog Action Day 2010**

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Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

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Beth Q.

Hello friend!
I’m also participating in this important conference blogging and I really enjoyed watching your post to reinforce this awareness.
It really is very sad what happens in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world, including the northeast of Brazil, even with Brazil being the largest holder of watershed in the world.
Visit my blog too to see what is happening here in South America.
a hug from Rio de Janeiro