Turn on the tap. There it is. Wake up in the morning and take a nice long shower. Flush the toilet without a second thought.

Now imagine that you wake up in the morning before dawn. You grab a large plastic container and start the 4-mile walk to the river. You have to climb over fallen trees. You have to keep aware of your surroundings, watching for snakes or men lying in wait to attack you. If you are a girl, you think about that fact that you can’t go to school today because this trip will take you hours. You get to the river. The water is brown, brackish. There is a group of cattle drinking from it. You take it because you need water. You take it because you have no choice.

Imagine you are a mother giving this water to your child. Your child has diarrhea and is dehydrated. You don’t know that the water is making your child sick.

Now imagine that in this village there is a well that provides clean water. The walk is only a mile, close enough that mothers can get the water and girls can go to school. The water is free from parasites and worms. Imagine there is a health worker in the village that has explained to you the importance of washing your hands and face, how boiling water kills diseases, how you can take simple steps to keep your children alive.

Both of these scenarios are very, very real. Progress is being made every day to ensure that mothers and children in the developing world gain access to water, sanitation and hygiene; 360,000 children have been saved in the last 10 years. However, about 2,892 children1 under the age of 5 still die every day from diarrheal diseases, and 88 percent of these deaths are due to poor drinking water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygiene.

Imagine 2,800 children dying every day, 84,000 every month, more than 1 million every year —about the population of or San Jose, California or Calgary, Canada.

The thing is these deaths don’t need to occur. We know how to stop them: we can stop them: we must stop them. The small percentage of the U.S. budget spent on foreign assistance (less than 1 percent) is making a difference and organizations like World Vision and the private sector are making a difference.

1According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report (page 25), 1.2 million children die from diarrheal disease every year before reaching age 5—88 percent of these deaths are due to poor drinking water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygiene.

Now you can help make a difference.

What You Can Do

Call or email [this action has expired] your representative and Senators in Congress. Educate yourself, your church, and your neighbors.

Help us get the Water for the World Act passed and to the President’s desk and, in the process, help thousands of children make it to their fifth birthday and beyond.

Photo: © 2012 World Vision/ photo by Daniel Lee

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