The Blessing of Water

Written by Marianne H.

When you run out of eggs – or any grocery product – what do you do? What about when you’re out of toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste or dish soap? My common course of action is to run out to the supermarket and buy more. It rarely happens that something I need cannot be found on the shelves of my local store. Actually, not only can I find what I’m looking for but there is generally a very diverse selection of each product available, sometimes to the point of finding it hard to choose.

The same goes for medical care. If I’m sick, I go see a doctor. If I have dirty clothes, I throw them in the washer and that is the extent of the effort it takes to clean my clothes. If I want to turn on a light or charge my laptop, there is power available. And whenever I want to shower, there is water.

I believe that those of us who grew up in first world countries, take a lot of things for granted. I grew up in a country (the Netherlands) where we have lots of water and where the water that comes from the tap, has been defined as the best drinking water in the world. Since I have been in Ethiopia for the last six months I have learned to appreciate the ‘little’ things more and have become acutely aware of what a blessing it is to have the kind of access to water that I do in my country.

We all know that water is needed for a lot of things but Ethiopia is not a country with a wealth of water. After I experienced a couple of days without water, I started to appreciate it more and realize that a lot of things are not possible without water. Things I normally take for granted. Without water there is no shower, no flushing the toilet, no laundry washing, no cleaning, no dishes, but most important: there will be no water to drink. Our body can only go a couple of days without water before it shuts down.

When there is no running water in Ethiopia, I am very blessed to be able to go up to the store to buy bottled water but this is not the case for most Ethiopians who can barely afford to purchase food.

According to a recent report of the world health organization, only 13% of the Ethiopian rural population has access to clean drinking water. The rest of the population is exposed to diseases that are connected to a lack of water, dirty water, bad hygiene or lack of sanitation. Dirty water is the number one killer in the world with a rate of 25,000 victims a day.

Families with their water jugs.

Families with their water jugs.

Women and children have to walk – sometimes 7 hours a day – to find a place where they can take water. And even then, that water is dirty and disease ridden. They fill up their cans and carry them all the way back home. All that effort, for water. In my country, the average use of water is 130 liter per person a day, whereas the average use of water in Ethiopia is 3 or 4 liters per person a day.

Even if the majority of Ethiopians had access to a tap for running water, the tap water in Ethiopia is not safe to drink. I have seen firsthand a lot of Ethiopians that are often sick, because of the bad drinking water.

Knowing this is a huge problem, Blessing the Children is working to prove aqua tabs for the BCI families. These tabs are dropped into any available water and effectively clean the water, thus giving the families access to healthy, disease free drinking water. These little tabs have prevented a lot of visits to the clinic and have improved the life standard for many of the children in the BCI Program. They have made a big difference for the families and we feel so blessed to be able to provide them.

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