Every morning, 12-year-old Diana gets up with the sun. Before she can go to school, she has to get water for her family.
Diana lives in Salgaa, a densely populated town in Kenya. It’s a truck stop for long-distance drivers, but most of the residents – like Diana’s family – are farmers. Her dad drives a tractor, but most of his pay goes to cover rent on their small house. There is very little left for food, clothes, or school fees for Diana and her siblings.
Worst of all, there’s no money left for water.
Which is why Diana gets up early every morning to make the long walk to the river. The river is about 2 miles from their home. She carries an empty “jerry can” (plastic water jug) with her.
At the river, Diana is always sad to see how polluted the water is. There’s trash floating in it, along with the dirt. Often, cows and goats are getting their water there too, which means dung is mixed in with the water as well.
But it’s the only water Diana has, so she fills her jug anyway. “The river is polluted,” she says, “but we have no choice but to consume from it.” Heaving the jerry can onto her back, she starts the long walk home. Her jerry can holds 2.6 gallons of water. Full, it weighs over 20 pounds.
When she finally reaches home, she has to rush to make it to school. And that’s just the beginning of the day! After school, Diana repeats the journey all over again. Altogether, she spends about 4 hours fetching water, every single day.
The water Diana and her siblings collect from the river is all the water her family has. They use it for cooking, drinking, and washing. They try to boil the water before they drink or cook with it, but that’s tedious and time-consuming…it doesn’t always happen.
And that’s when Diana gets sick.
The dirty water causes diarrhea and vomiting. Not only does that mean Diana can’t go to school, it means their limited income has to stretch to cover medicine too. There is a clinic in town, but it’s very expensive. Diana’s father earns about $5 a day driving the tractor. In any given month, he spends about half of that on medicine for his children, just to treat water-borne illnesses.
This is Diana’s real life. 4 hours every day carrying heavy water jugs. Getting sick. Watching money disappear into doctor’s hands. And she’s not alone. Around the world, 1 in 9 people don’t have access to clean water.
The water crisis isn’t just numbers. It’s affecting real people like Diana. And we as Christians should help! Matthew 25:35 says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” It goes on in verse 40 to say, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” What better way to care for “the least of these” than by meeting basic needs like clean water?
We cannot continue to ignore the very real suffering of Diana and hundreds of other children like her!
Which is why we’re focusing on water this summer! Clean water projects like water catchment systems and household water filters are making a huge difference for children like Diana! Click here to learn how you can help.