Impact of a drop of water.
Image via Wikipedia

In 2008 around this time, I wasn’t thinking about the water I drank. In fact, like most people, I took it for granted.

Nearly a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. Yes, I said billion and unfortunately, that number isn’t getting smaller very quickly. One in eight of us doesn’t have the ability to drink or use water safely.  Plus, unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. It’s unbelievable to even think about. People around the world and even within the United States don’t have access to suce a basic need.

In July, to address this water crisis, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right, but that still doesn’t mean that we’re any closer to a solution. Water isn’t just a human rights issue. It’s also an environmental issue, animal welfare issue, sustainablity issue, and most importantly, a global issue. In 2008, I started to learn just how little I knew about the world going on around me.

As President of the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at Marywood, it was my responsibility to help organize a community service event each semester. It was around this time two years ago that our chapter decided to take on a more global issue and we chose the world water crisis. Having discussed this issue in a few classes before, many of us were aware that clean water was a problem, however, we didn’t quite know what the true scope of the issue was. So we did a little bit of research. It was shocking to say the least.

To us, water became so much more than just a cause to latch onto. It was something we decided to campaign for  fully through a campus-wide event called The Ripple Effect, which launched in April 2009. This event, which was held on Marywood’s campus, brought together students and members of the community to help spread the word about charity:water (we partnered with them through their Water for Schools program) and water advocacy. We had an art contest, information booths, and concrete ways to help solve the crisis. We had people write letters to Senators and sign petitions. We showed videos. We shared the facts. And we didn’t get a lot of peple to attend or raise a lot of money. It was disappointing, but I didn’t feel like our efforts were in vain.

We sent in our donation to charity:water and waited. The response we got…well, we couldn’t have asked for something more meaningful. We got a handwritten card that thanked us for our participation as well as some photos. Those photographs left an impression on me. I got to see the faces of those affected by the crisis.

It wasn’t just a billion people without water. It was a little boy with the widest smile I’ve ever seen. It was a woman with tired eyes. It was an entire village. That to me, really said something. This is not a crisis a world away. This is something happening in every country around the world.

Since then, I’ve donated to charity:water every year. Granted, I’m a student and have little cash to spare, but even a few dollars makes a difference. I subscribe to their emails and I spread the word about their cause when I can. And today, they need your help.

Today is Blog Action Day and I’m participating. Will you?
Learn more about the world water crisis and ways to help at Blog Action Day 2010.

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