Murky Waters

 

This past Saturday Beatrix and I, along with my mom and Milo in the stroller, walked 2.4 miles for a fundraiser called Walk for Water. It was organized by 20 Liters, a non-profit that helps raise money to supply water filters for people living in Rwanda. 

It was cold and rainy, and I had forgotten Beatrix’s hat, but I asked her to walk anyway. We first had to walk 1.2 miles to a drain pipe leading to a ditch at the side of a road, where we would fill empty bottles with dirty water, then walk 1.2 miles back to the starting point where that water would be filtered. 

Along the walk route there were signs that 20 Liters had posted, with alarming facts about access to clean water.

“Did you know,” I asked Beatrix as we walked with a crowd of 500 down the sidewalk, “that one out of every eight people in our world don’t have clean water? That means that there are a lot of people who don’t get to drink clean water like we do.”

“Mom,” Beatrix whined, “I’m getting tired.” We had walked about three-quarters of a mile.

“I know, but I want you to try to keep going. I think it must be very hard for the boys and girls in Rwanda too, but this is something they have to do every day.” I didn’t want to make her feel guilty, but I did want to use this as an opportunity to teach empathy, something even I still struggle to learn.

“You’re doing a great job,” my mom said, giving the stroller to me and taking Beatrix by the hand. “Why don’t we skip? That will be fun.”

We passed another sign.

“Wow, Beatrix, those jerry cans – ” I pointed to one of the yellow 20 liter jugs someone was carrying, “those are what moms in Rwanda use to carry their water. One of those weighs forty-four pounds. That’s more than you weigh!”

“Whoah,” Beatrix said with awe.

There were more signs along the path, which Mom and I read silently to ourselves.

“Dirty water kills more people than all forms of violence including war.” “Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.”

“Should I read this to her?” Mom asked, pointing to the sign that read “Diarrhea kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.”

“Yes,” I replied. “I think she needs to know so she understands why we’re doing this.” But how do we explain that to a child?

Beatrix understood death, More

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