Many of us see summer as a time for fun: vacations, the beach, barbecues and the occasional wedding. And, while many of us have access to swimming pools, people in the water-deprived villages of Asia, Africa and South America are literally dying for clean water, 1.8 million per year, according to the World Health Organization. People who, by some accident of birth, were born in a water-deprived village near the equator.
As the price of gold rises, little do people realize that there's a part of the globe where clean water is, in a sense, more precious than gold. Imagine living in a village where women and girls from each family must walk to a distant water source to fill containers with heavy water at least twice a day. Imagine that water source being a contaminated open well or a parasite-infested watering hole where animals bathe.
Of course, during the dry season, it may dry up partially or totally, then they must walk farther or do with less water. And they must collect water every day, always at risk of attack by wild animals, snakes or worse. The water collected must be for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing clothes, bathing livestock, etc.
As long as a village is without a clean water supply, it is subject to an array of deadly waterborne diseases. Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a waterborne disease. Trachoma, the world's leading cause of preventable blindness, is prevalent in these water-impoverished countries. It is estimated that 150 million people are in need of treatment for this progressive disease.
Why do I mention this? Because this profound human tragedy is preventable! And you can do something about it.
When friends and I learned about this several years ago, we started building bore wells, then formed an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) charity and built more wells for only $1,800 apiece, bore wells that go well into the water table and that will provide clean water year-round for generations. The water is sparkling clean and abundant. The wells have a spigot and pump handle and are capped on top, protecting them. The villagers also receive parasite-busting medication from a medical team and hygiene classes. If the people I speak of could write this letter, they would, but because they have no voice in the world system, others must.
You might want to join or sponsor our charity, Women of the Wells, in our annual WOW Walk 4 Water in Huntington Beach on Sept. 24 on the strand where Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway intersect. Or, if your organization would like our Speakers Bureau to visit, we welcome any opportunity to increase awareness of this situation. For more information, call us at (949) 644-2182 or visit womenofthewells.org.
GEORGIANA WILLIS is a Newport Beach resident and the president of Women of the Wells.