Water: What’s the big deal?

  • Sitting on all the drinking fountains at our church are plastic water bottles filled with cloudy, dirty brown water.
  • 5-gallon jugs full of water are placed in various locations around the church building to give us a sense of how difficult it is to carry water.
  • Yesterday our family checked out an empty 5-gallon jug, took it over to Green Lake, filled it up at a beach, and took turns lugging it less than a half mile on the path around the lake.  It was hard.

These are some of the ways that we’re learning to pay more attention to the fact that far too many people do not have access to clean drinking water.  In the 50 days following Easter, we’re looking at small steps we can take to better appreciate this precious resource.  Each household in the church is being asked to consider how to use water more carefully and to give up a few things so we can put that money into a project drilling and repairing wells in Uganda.

A couple of facts:

  • More people die each year from drinking dirty water than from the world’s hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes combined.
  • Households in Uganda spend an average of 660 hours a year collecting water.  This represents two full months of labor, with attendant opportunity costs for child care, education, and income generation.
  • It’s estimated that $10 billion a year would solve the world water crisis.  It sounds like a lot, but Americans spend $18 billion a year on makeup, and last year spent more than $400 billion on Christmas gifts.

I need help to think about big problems in small ways.  Here’s a good story:

“Would you give a million dollars to the poor?” a Sunday school teacher asked her students.

“Yes!” the children shouted in unison.

“Would you give a thousand dollars to the poor?”


“Would you give one dollar to the poor?”

The room fell silent.  “What’s the difference?” the teacher asked.

One honest student got it:  “The difference is that I have one dollar!”


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