There’s a global water crisis?
I was at Oasis Church in Los Angeles in 2008 when Pastor Philip Wagner first brought the global clean water crisis to the congregation’s attention. It was a heartbreaking reality that I hoped I could help remedy. I listened intently and told myself I would make a difference somehow. That day God planted a seed in my heart. I cared about the cause and gave donations but never really got involved. I certainly never thought I could raise enough money to help fund a clean water well.
I recall Jordan Wagner addressing the congregation on World Water Day 2015. He presented a memorable slide show that broke down how each person could partner with others and raise much-needed funds – something like You + 7 Friends donates X amount of dollars for X number of months = Water Well. My friend Monica and I listened attentively and were very moved. We took photos holding a jerry can in the photo booth set up outside the church #everyoneloveswater #worldwaterday and excitedly talked about how we might get friends and family to help. This time I actually thought I could raise enough money to help fund a clean water well.
I have experienced this shortage before.
It was May 2017 and I was standing in the backyard of my family home in Pinar del Rio, Cuba observing the 3ft x 6ft cistern they use to house extra water. “I’ve missed entire days of work at the law firm pleading for water at the municipal water authority.” says my cousin Victor. He’s tall and lanky with warm brown eyes that just barely veil the heaviness of his 40+ years struggling to survive. He’s an attorney, but as prestigious as that sounds, he too has to hustle on a daily basis to put food on the table because rations aren’t enough.
The home, and the identical one next door, were built by my paternal great grandfather, Antonio Sanchez, in 1920 and 1925 respectively. They were constructed with a shared outhouse and no running water in either home. When my parents, three siblings, and I left the family home in December 1971 for a better life in the United States there was still no running water indoors. Nothing much had changed in our 45-year absence.
As the only adult male left in the home, Victor, and his sister Anna, is tasked with taking care of the home and my two aunts – my father’s inseparable younger sisters who are both in their late seventies. “I can’t have them up in the middle of the night carrying buckets of water.”, Victor tells me. I found the image of my elderly aunts carrying heavy buckets of sloshing water in the dark of night very curious. I came to learn the only source of running water was a thin pipe with a spigot running alongside the fence that separates the two homes.
My water was rationed growing up in Cuba.
In Cuba, the water, like the food, is rationed. To my disbelief, Victor explained the water is distributed at odd hours, many times late at night while they sleep. As soon as they hear the pipe shaking and creaking with the promise of water it’s all hands on deck – young and old alike. They would form a sort of bucket brigade to collect as much water as possible to fill the two giant indoor barrels used for storing water for drinking, washing, and bathing and for the cistern in the backyard.
This trip was my first time meeting most of my extended family and visiting their modest homes. It wasn’t just a homecoming. I realized it was through God’s divine orchestration of events that I was there to observe and report back to my family in the U.S. Upon my return my father, sister, and I quickly began pooling money to fund the construction of a water tank on the property and the installation of indoor plumbing complete with a hot water heater, which my aunts considered an unnecessary luxury. The project was completed in April 2018 with a tremendous amount of physical effort on Victor’s part and the loving grace of God.
I came away from this experience with a deeper understanding of the life-giving and life-saving power of water. No more lost days of work pleading for water. No more threat of my aunts getting injured hauling water buckets. No more stress and a new sense of dignity for all.
There was an awakening and the seed planted in my heart ten years prior sprouted up and began to flower. This time I knew I could raise money to help fund a clean water well.
Keep Loving Each Other (K.L.E.O)
In November 2018 I started a Generosity.org fundraising team called K.L.E.O – an acronym for Keep Loving Each Other, wise words told to me by a very wise man, author Bob Goff. My sphere of influence is very small but with just five of us – my mom Nieves, my husband Todd, my friend Monica, and my co-worker Veda, we raised nearly $2,400. Though that in itself is not enough to build a well, we were able to partner with other fundraising groups. I could never do this alone, but in community anything is possible. Together we did raise enough money to fund a clean water well!
The well is in the Aldea San Carlos Community in Suchitepequez, Patulul, Guatemala and services 250 people giving them a sense of freedom, self-reliance, a sense of hope, and a future. Having clean water allows children to go to school instead of spending their days fetching water. Having clean water dramatically reduces disease and helps people live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Having clean water helps restore self-respect.
Help fight the global water crisis.
If you’ve read this far please consider giving whatever you can to help people who, by no fault of their own, find themselves living in poverty and without the one thing we should all have – clean drinking water.
Keep loving each other.
Ana Reyes Jones