February Social Justice Challenge: Water

Welcome to the second month of the 2010 Social Justice Challenge! This month’s focus is Water.  Throughout each month we are encouraged to read or use other media sources to not only learn more about the months topic, but if you feel called , to take action steps towards making a difference.

What, if any, exposure have you personally had to a water shortage?

For me, my experience comes from my time in Honduras.  These trips have been such an eye opener to me.  I have never been in situations before where water was not readily available.  If you could not get it directly from the tap, you surely could go to the local convenience store to pick up a cold and refreshing bottle.

Where we stay, in the town on Talanga Honduras, water is not a given.  Some times you have it – some times you do not.  When we go there we each receive a large bottle of water which we are told to hang on to for the trip and refill as we can.  I had no idea that first time how important that bottle of water would become.

While there we seen many small streams where people gathered to not only wash themselves and livestock, but this same water was where they went to the bathroom – and gathered water for cooking and drinking.  I seen it with my own eyes.  What we would not even think of drinking, they did so happily.

The first time I went to Honduras our team of Americans went walking a mile or more up a hill led by a pastor.  Where he took us, was to a small shack – no larger than an outhouse, where a grandmother lived with her three grandchildren.  The childrens parents had both been murdered.  Outside in the dirt was a small circle of stones where they would build a fire for cooking.  One of the children kept looking hungrily at my water bottle.  We were told never to give up our water but I had to.  I handed over the bottle and all three children grabbed at it, drinking it down thirstily.  I later learned that for them to get water, the grandmother had to go down this hill and carry the water up in a small bucket as that is all she could carry in her arthritic hands.

Water is such an important resource.  This month as I look into resources about water, I will be looking for a way that I can make a difference.

I took this picture on February 9th, 2009 in Choluteca Honduras. I don't think this boy had ever seen a camera before. We brought with us food and water to hand out. It was 115 degrees out and it was my birthday. Doing this made it the best birthday of my life.

21 thoughts on “February Social Justice Challenge: Water

  1. Wow, that’s an incredible picture.

    I live in Atlanta, GA and we had a close scare (although not anything like those people have) with a drought a few years back. It really made me rethink how we use water and how much we take it for granted.

  2. I spent 10 weeks in Bogota’, Colombia during the summer of 1993. The last 2 weeks I was there, I lived up in the mountains. We received all of our water from rain and runoff from the mountain. It was collected and stored for later use.

    On one occasion, I was washing dishes in the kitchen sink. As I scrubbed a dish in my hands, the water continued to flow out of the faucet. One of the British guys I was working with noticed what I was doing and he said, “Turn that water off! Don’t you see you’re wasting it? You Americans have no idea how much water you waste.”

    Of course, I did as I was told, and I agreed with him. The water didn’t have to be on the entire time. Ever since then, I continue to turn off the water while doing dishes and while brushing my teeth. Lesson learned.

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic

    1. Laura that is a really good point. I do that all the time too. I have ran water for a shower before and while it is heating I go do something else, like get a cup of coffee….. in Honduras we did not have hot water. We had cold water and only so much of it. We were told to turn water on – get wet – turn water off and soap up, then quickly rinse off.

      1. Yep, same with us! When I was in the city, there was a small pipe that came out of the wall above, with COLD mountain water. Douse self, wash, rinse quickly, dry & dress REALLY fast!

        Grateful for my hot water!


  3. I did have an experience with water shortage…back in the mid-fifties in a part of Missouri (the Ozarks), with relatives whose well had run dry.

    Staying with them for a couple of days, we saw firsthand what it was like to do without. They had to go to town to get water for drinking, but they didn’t have a lot of money, so there were certain things that remained undone…like washing clothes and dishes.

    The shortage was temporary, until a new well could be dug, and I think my parents helped them financially with that.

    1. Laurel – we never miss it until it is gone right? We use water for so much in our lives…. I think it would be an interesting experiment if we tried to go without any water use for a single day. None at all – not to drink, not to wash, not to clean, not to cook. We would have to do all of that without water.

      Hmmmmm…. now I am thinking….

  4. A couple of years ago we had some flooding and the water treatment plant had a problem so we didn’t have water to use for almost a week. Oh we could flush the toilet but that was about all you could do. I live in a medium size city so you really don’t expect to have this kind of problem. That was the longest week. You couldn’t hardly beg,borrow or steal bottled water that week.

    1. LInda isnt it funny that we think of these cases of short term water loss and in some countries this is the way it is all the time? I bet if any of them came and spent time here they would be disgusted how we carelessly use water.

      Great example!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience—well written and heart wrenching. A friend of mine lived in Ukraine for a year, and they had access to water for an hour or so in the morning and again in the evening; otherwise the water was shut off. They learned to plan their usage by filling a pot for some later meal or a tub for a later bath. Interesting, huh?

    1. That is interesting erinstraza. I am thinking that right now I have been awake for about 15 minutes. I have made a pot of coffee, brushed my teeth and washed my face and hands in that amount of time without thinking twice about it.

  6. When I was in the Peace Corps, There was a draught in the main valley to the east of us. It got so bad they had to close the schools in the spring. When they reopened in the fall, the classes had only half the number of students as the year before. The other children had died from either disease or starvation. It is hard for us in this country to imagine such a thing happening. I’ve told students this story and asked them to imagine it happening in their own class.

  7. I was born and raised in West Texas, and my work is about the struggles of our grandparents’ generation in the worst water crisis of American History: the Dust Bowl.

    The Great Plains is still a very fragile ecology. Our grandparents’ generation has much to teach us in terms of what we should fear and how we can face it.

Hmmmm... what do you think?

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