Our family decided to spend World Water Day, March 22, without “running water” in the house. Our day began by brushing teeth and making coffee with water from the spigot carried in by the bucket full. Although my coffee had a mustier taste than I prefer, I secretly thought to myself, “How fun! A day without indoor water, what an idea, Lori Knight.” Little did I know of the inconveniences this idea would provide and what a poor reflection of the reality of being without clean, running water it actually portrayed.
Breakfast went without a hitch. One of our outdoor spigots sits right outside our garage, perpendicular and within steps of the kitchen. The kids thrilled as they ran outside and filled their cups with our clean (although unfiltered) water. Upon finishing their cereal and fage, the kids raced to rinse their few dishes outdoors and washed them in bins, which initially supplied excitement and fun.
No one complained about limited flushing of the toilets or filling the back of the commode with a bucket of drawn water. No one but me! Then back outdoors to wash the hands.
The middle children, Ann and Preston, enjoyed a relay comprised of a bin holding 3-5 gallons of water. They dragged the bin up and down the driveway to get a glimpse of what children their age endure daily. They held up for about 20 minutes. Many children and women spend their entire day transporting water. The problem was our relay was just that, a game.
A family of 6 (with a toddler) means we do about 4-5 loads of laundry a day. World Water Day should be no different. Right? We set up a series of bins. Suds bin. Rinse bin. Re-rinse bin. A bleaching bin. Too much fun…until the new wears off, kids wring soap in one another’s eyes, and tears ensue! The children enjoyed the fledgling stages of the wash. After the third load, the children left me to my own demise to finish the clothes. I wasn’t disappointed. Even with the spigot within reach, the time doing laundry proved disproportionate to a machine and running water. Plus, there’s no multi-tasking. Just washing. The bleach water aggressed my skin. My hands dried. They are cracking. I cannot imagine doing this day in and day out. Still though, there’s no comparison when I consider most women walk miles to have enough water to fill one basin for extravagance of washing. They lug it home only to repeat. Ground Hog Day becomes reality.
The day continued: lunch and water to drink, dishes, water to drink, pottying, washing hands, washing Mez after lunch, diaper changes, hand washing, cardio, more water to drink, lift weights, and water to drink. Oh, and sweat. Who thought of that? Now, washing up post-exercise in pre-summer, chilly water took my breath. I decided to defer the real shower to March 23. Dinner prep and cleanup was more arduous. It demanded multiple trips outside. We needed water for pasta, washing veggies, cleaning up from shrimp, and chicken, hand washing, washing pots and pans, plates and flatware. Prep. Wash. Cook. Wash. Eat. Wash.
Our World Water Day concluded with baths. The kids were troopers, except for Mez. (Cold water is not him style.) Each child opted for a different style. One washed only the necessary spots. One relished the novelty of cold water while almost naked in the back yard under the stars. One bathed in a swimsuit, washing each part systematically with just the needed amount of water (conserving both the water and the warmth of the body). Together, we thanked God for the luxury of water and health that He has so generously given our family. We asked for His provision for those in need of clean water. We remembered He is the living water that quenches the deepest ‘sine qua non’ of life. We committed to using the resources He’s entrusted us for His glory and good, changing lives in His name.
I thought, in the end, this was just an idea. Maybe good. Maybe fun. But none of this compares to reality. Millions around the world suffer without clean, running water. Wells built break. People struggle to survive. Water abounds but not to the impoverished. My idea changed only a day in our home and to the degree we allowed it because at any moment I could abandon all and return to the luxury of the water inside my home (not to mention the water I used was clean and within steps of our backdoor). My idea left me deflated except for a hope that yesterday sparked an awareness in each of my children to look past themselves and become aware of the suffering of others. We shall see…