Happy World Water Day!
To celebrate this important day, we want to introduce you to Lashiwe. She lives in Malawi in a small community we serve. The majority of the population live in mud- and grass-thatched houses, with a few in brick and grass-thatched houses. There’s no electricity, so residents depend on batteries and solar sources of power.
Before Feed the Children began working in the community, proper hygiene and sanitation practices weren’t part of day-to-day life: washing hands after toilet use, throwing garbage in a designated pit, covering the toilet after use to prevent flies, and covering drinking water to prevent contamination. The people simply didn’t know to do these things.
Yet their kids would get sick regularly, and parents didn’t know why. Lashiwe’s mother, Maria, would wonder why her children seemed to suffer from such chronic intestinal distress.
The UN World Water Day was instituted for children just like Lashiwe—to raise awareness of the importance of fresh water and to encourage people to work for clean water around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 783 million people live without access to safe drinking water, and some 2.5 billion people—almost a third of the world’s population— lack sanitation facilities.
We work hard each day for children like Lashiwe. One of the four pillars of our international work is Health & Water. Clean water and proper sanitation are vital to thriving communities.
It doesn’t matter how healthy a child’s diet is, if all they drink is dirty water.
In fiscal year 2014, Feed the Children’s water projects benefited more than 63,400 children and families, providing them with clean-water systems such as wells, water lines, and rainwater-catchment systems. We built school toilets that benefited more than 4,600 pupils; and provided direct clinical care to more than 19,300 individuals through its dedicated staff and volunteers.
Through care group sessions organized through Feed the Children, Lashiwe’s mother Maria received vital training in hygiene and sanitation. She learned to make hand washing facilities for her house and how to clean her home most effectively to reduce disease. She learned the importance of having a garbage pit for her house, and how to cover the toilet with a drop hole cover.
Today, Lashiwe and her friends are healthier and happier, with disease outbreaks greatly reduced. “We are grateful to Feed the Children for introducing water, hygiene and sanitation interventions in our community,” Maria says. “My family will never be the same again.”
And what does Lashiwe say? “I like washing my hands using this system!” And what child doesn’t love to splash around in good clean water?
How will you celebrate World Water Day? One simple way is to be aware of how much water we use in the United States, and how different that is from many places around the world. The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70 percent of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer (a toilet alone can use 27 percent!).
Water’s one of those things that’s easy to take for granted. Most of us turn on the faucet without a second thought, and our daily shower is just another chore, not a moment for gratitude. But even something as simple as washing our hands can be a moment to pause and be aware of the abundance so many of us enjoy.
Feed the Children makes it easy to put your awareness into action to help children just like Lashiwe. Read more about our Heath & Water projects, and shop our gift catalog for gifts that will bring the gift of life-giving water to children, families, and communities around the globe.