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Tears Are Not Enough

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The narrow earthen trail meanders miles through the African hill lands and finds its conclusion at the marshy edge of a small pond. It is the only water source for miles around, and clearly every manner of creature utilizes the little it has to offer. A lazy cloud of mosquitoes lingers over the sour and stagnant water, laying eggs for the next generation of malaria carriers. A small girl, only seven years old, kneels and dips her clay jerry can into the murky depths. She watches the film on top separate and feels the weight of the can increase as it fills with disease laden water. She does not know that the water she carries back to her thirsty family is the reason that her little brother is dying. With one hand she steadies the ten pound jerry can on her small head and begins the long trek home.
My mom had handed me the book a couple hours ago and suggested I give it a skim-through during my free moments. With nothing but a single water drop gracing the cover, it had looked dull; another one of those free books she received in the mail for giving money to charities. I tossed the completed book onto the deck and peered down through the wavering water at my feet. Around the vibrant pink nail polish, the skin of my toes was beginning to resemble pale raisins. Too much water. Sighing, I slowly lifted my dripping legs out of the cool water, and reached for the towel I had left hanging on the railing. As I mechanically tied it around my waist, I glanced out across the pool and did some quick calculations. Twenty-four feet in diameter and four feet deep - the pool held just under 12,000 gallons of sparkling clean water. My eyes filled with tears.
I spent the following days researching the world’s water needs and concluded that the words “water” and “life” might as well be synonymous. Water grows crops; water keeps livestock alive; water sanitizes; water helps with the absorption of nutrients and medication; water is necessary for every aspect of life. I found the need to be staggering and more distressing than I could have imagined. In Latin America alone, fifty-million people lack access to safe drinking water. In Africa, water-related diseases claim the lives of about two-million children every year. The lack of clean water is more pressing than HIV and malaria combined yet, the solution is so simple. A few thousand dollars is enough to provide a well for an entire village. Pure, life-giving water for an entire village would cost just a little more than my pool had cost.

Awareness of world water issues continues to reshape my outlook on life. The statistics haunt me, and images of the young girl kneeling beside the filthy pond fill my mind every time I turn on the tap and take a drink of clean water. I want to help, because the water from my tears will never be enough.



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