March 22 was World Water Day, so maybe this is a bit late in coming. But here in India, water conservation is an every day reality, especially in the last two months of summer before the monsoon rains hit in June.
Our city in particular is at 21% of the water capacity that it should be. And we still have at least six weeks before we will see rain. But its the rural communities that get hit the hardest. Some small villages have ZERO water, and rely on water tanker trucks to bring in water from other parts of the country. Since we live in a fairly affluent apartment complex, the water makes it to our home. And my biggest inconvenience has been last week's city-wide mandate to drain all the swimming pools. But it helped me to realize even more that every drop really does count. I'm trying to do my part by thoroughly examining every piece of laundry that goes into the hamper, stopping the cloth diapers for a while, helping the kids take speed showers and making sure we don't dirty unnecessary dishes.
The irony is that Luke landed in Houston on Sunday night to witness what 16 inches of rain in 24 hours looks like. Of course, I made the joke that Luke ought to bring some of it back with him. But water is a resource that really can't be just redistributed. So what can the West do?
Funny you should ask, because I just finished reading "The Blue Sweater" by Jacqueline Novogratz. She records her journey of redefining philanthropy, striving to see more sustainable change through a combination of non-profit and profit-producing ventures. It is really sad to hear about how many good intentioned philanthropic projects can actually be harmful to those in need. Novogratz taught me that it is not as simple as bringing a new technology (a well, for instance) and training a few people. Often a shift of thinking in the entire community needs to take place, which can be a hard-fought battle, especially if attempted by an outsider. My biggest take-away is to research, research, research any organization that is promising big things with your dollar. Find out how their projects sustain over time and be especially inquisitive when solutions sound too simple.
The great news is that there are good organizations out there! You can find out more about Novogratz's organization and some of the great things already happening here.
In the meantime, as you are showering, cleaning, or running through the sprinkler this summer, don't forget those millions of people who suffer from a real, life-threatening lack of water. We live in a messed-up world, where creation itself is groaning for redemption. The change starts in our own thoughts and attitudes toward the things we have.
Feel free to download a free 8x10 printable of my "Water is Life" graphic to hang up for a visual reminder!
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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