I stood for hours by their side waiting. Waiting for the one source of water in the community to be fixed. Waiting so they could fill their 5 gallon jugs and walk them miles back home. Waiting for a simple pleasure we take for granted.
It was a hot summer day in the remote village of Namulonge, Uganda. And my role was to document the men working tirelessly on the broken drill. The non-profit I traveled with (Project Restore) as a photojournalist had raised the money for this life source to be repaired. Your house payment or even your monthly car payment could have sufficed to fix the problem and provide water for hundreds of thirsty mouths.
Those hours standing-by, watching people come and go throughout the day, left a huge impression on me back in 2010. I had been exposed to poverty, but not like this. I had served and even lived in Romania where water only ran once or twice a day for a small period of time - and not always warm. I had worked with at-risk youth and low-income families in the heart of the inner-city of St Louis. I helped hand out food to the poor in a sugar cane village in the Dominican Republic. And I watched as violent and handicapped youth were locked in a room comprised of cell-bars for their safety and for those taking care of them.
I stood out A BIT in this new setting . . . I was a white female that didn't look, sound, or even talk like anyone in the crowd. The kids definitely loved the mystery, but others passing by sometimes greeted me with skepticism in their eyes. Overall, the people were gracious and kind, but you could almost feel the daily pain of their survival journey (like the pictures in this blog from that day).
According to Water.org, 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water. Did you know that this simple pleasure most of us take for granted can break the cycle of poverty and change the future of generations?!? Those drops of liquid save lives.
The joyous moment came later in the afternoon. The drill was fixed and water was flowing freely. No more waiting. No more patience needed. The experience nearly brought tears to my eyes and to this day, I can replay the images as if I am still standing there now.
How far did you walk to get a clean drink of water? Did you get at least one shower this week? Can you find multiple stores carrying affordable bottles of replenishing water? Did you eat off clean dishes? Did your kids have to sacrifice going to school just so your family could walk to get water for the day? How many hours did it take to hand wash your clothes in the near-by creek?
Be thankful. Stop waiting for the next big thing. Be aware. Stop waiting for someone to teach you what lies beyond your reality. Be the change. Stop waiting for the right moment to make a difference.
The time is now. There is no more waiting. There is no excuse.
What are you waiting for?