Water is the most essential resource that people need to have. When sitting in a first world classroom watching documentaries and reading reports on the water issues in the world it is easy to teach about the crisis of water. It is easy to become motivated to reach out and begin the journey of raising funds and looking at various potential options to resolve the issue for people or communities that need clean drinking water. We think that the hardest part is getting the money to buy a solution. After determining which solution to the water crisis is the best fit, then raising the funds, and afterwards placing the check in the envelope, we return to our comfortable classrooms feeling good that we have taken care of part of the issue. I know this because that is how our journey started to help people in the world who need clean water to drink.
There are a variety of solutions for helping people purify water yet we found that in collecting 125 California Redemption Value beverage containers and taking the to the recycle center for a nickel each would buy a simple device called a LifeStraw. We began transforming trash into a monetary treasure that would give the most precious treasure of all Life. We engage people in the recycling efforts at our school and then people at other schools until we recycled over 250,000 containers and raised $12,500 dollars. After much effort we sent away the checks and we felt great about our accomplishment of shipping 2,500 straws, to Tanzania.
The floods in Pakistan prompted us to engage people to raise funds to help the people of Pakistan. The collaboration and cooperative effort raised $9,000.00 in two weeks which enabled us to buy 1,500 LifeStraws for the flood victims in Pakistan. When it came time to send the check there was a change in the process of helping out the people in need. I would be traveling to Pakistan after the LifeStraws arrived and aid in distributing the LifeStraws that we purchased. I was going to see first hand the issues facing the people in the flood regions the size of the need for water purification in Pakistan.
I did not intend or ask to play god, nor did I even consider the fact that I might be in a place that I would feel like I was the difference between freedom from death, or leaving people to roll the dice with the elements of unclean water. The people left without LifeStraws had to face the potential negative health effects unclean water could have on their lives. Being on the ground in Pakistan performing the distribution made raising the money became the easy part. The hard part is when you have only so many boxes for a village and when you remove the last LifeStraw from the last box with still over 100 people left in the line that will not get a LifeStraw. The question of how did I become the one to look at the people with empty hands and empty boxes and not have enough LifeStraws to meet the need.
Distribution was difficult at times when often it was the men and the older boys that got the LifeStraws before the children. The women were not present since they remained in their houses. There were some distribution opportunities to go door to door and help each of the family members to have a straw until we ran out. I had to endure the intense dichotomy of joy in helping others and sorrow for those I could not help. On the front line there is the double edge sword of knowing that 1,500 LifeStraws will save 1,500 lives yet I had to walk away from hundreds that I could not help. We need to continue give the little it takes to buy a LifeStraw to give for all the people who are suffering in these crisis situations to have the basic element of clean drinking water.