By Kristie Urich, Communications Officer, World Vision International

My almost 4-year-old daughter is full of questions. I always try to answer them. Sometimes, her questions make me realize just how odd adult life can be and how strange we must seem to children.

Then, there are the questions that have more serious answers. Those are the questions I desperately want to answer well. I want my children to have the tools they need to walk equipped through life. I want them to know the world is so much bigger than they are. I want them to know a God of love and their responsibility to steward what He has given us.

One day when we were brushing our teeth, my daughter asked, “Mommy, what does ‘waste’ mean?”

“Well, honey, wasting is using more than we need for ourselves. The water that we have isn’t just ours. We share it with everyone. When we use more than we need, it’s not there for someone who needs it.”

It sounds simple, but it’s a principle I find easy to forget in my daily life, where things like water seem abundant.

Memories from Abroad

Then I think about my time in the Peace Corps and the little girls my daughter’s age who learn about waste in a much harder way. On the way to the well in the morning to get water, I would see little girls younger than my daughter carrying little buckets, walking with their older siblings to the well to get water. They would fill the buckets and put them on their heads for the walk home.

Then I think of one of my neighbors in that same village, whose very young baby died because of diarrhea caused by lack of sanitation. I think of my own healthy 5-month-old son and the risks he won’t face because we have toilets and clean tap water.

Think about all the things we use water for: drinking, cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene. Now, imagine if we had to carry every drop of that water from a well located far from our home. And, on top of that, the water we carry is contaminated and will make us and our children sick. We’d think about waste a lot more then, wouldn’t we? When something is readily available and we don’t have to work for it, it’s easy to waste. We then inadvertently contribute to the slow leak of resources that contributes to imbalance in our world.

Sharing Our Resources

From where I sit, it’s difficult to understand the plight of the mother whose child dies from diarrhea. It’s difficult to grasp the life of a girl who can’t go to school because she has to walk miles to fetch water for her family. It’s hard to remember the 4,500 children who die every day because of dirty water and the lack of sanitation and good hygiene.

But it’s a reality nonetheless — one I want to remember for the sake of others with whom I share this planet, and for the sake of my children, who I want to remember that we have nothing without God, and that God gives us gifts and resources to share.

What You Can Do

God gave you your voice to speak out. Don’t waste it!

Use your voice [this action has expired] to urge Congress to pass the Water for the World Act and ask your Congressional Representative and Senators to introduce and cosponsor this important legislation.

Photo: Kristie Urich with fellow Peace Corps Volunteer after a week-long girls empowerment training in Ndelele, Cameroon. © World Vision

6 Comments

  • This is quite important to know that correct child education will help their growth process and improve the world for our good and that of others. Thank you for your good write up.

  • I call on Congress to pass the Water for the World Act. Too many children die because they do not have access to clean water.

  • I know that lo-flo showerheads and 1.6 gallon toilets are standard for the US, but in many parts of the world they don’t have the luxery of these, let alone wells that could bring them clean water. There are organazations like World Vision and Care that will dig wells and help build sanitation stations for these underprivilaged people.

  • This is wonderful. I’m so elated with this write up & inspired as well. Thanks very much for this good job.

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