I am an avid tea drinker.
Seriously, I love tea.
So recently when I came into the office and found that the hot water function on our water cooler was broken…
I was forlorn.
The hot water function was also broken on the machine one floor down. So rather than waiting a million years for our water kettle to heat up (it is a relic) or boiling water in the microwave (tea drinkers, you with me?) I started taking an insulated carafe down seven floors to the functional water cooler on the Mezzanine level.
Not a big deal, right?
So why, after the third day, was I getting increasingly annoyed? Why do I have to take time out of my day to go get water?
Then I remembered our partners in Latin America and Africa. Dawn Murdock, our Resource Mobilization Officer, blogged a while ago about how kids at the Wachara Secondary School in Nyanza Province, Kenya, used to have to stop classes and take an hour-long hike down to the nearest stream to bring back water, and wait for it to boil just so it would be safe to drink. Then, with support from Episcopal Relief & Development, Anglican Development Services of Nyanza (ADS) installed a rainwater catchment system at the school so that there would be plenty of water without having to interrupt classes to fetch it. ADS provided chlorine tablets to make the water in the tank safe to drink, as well as handwashing and hygiene education, which further helped to reduce water-borne disease at the school.
After a couple of days, we got a new water cooler that makes great hot water.
So now I can have all the tea I want!
But I’ll still remember how my annoyance at having to go down a few floors to get hot water pales in comparison to the time, effort and risk that so many people – especially women and girls – have to take just to get clean, safe water. It’s amazing the difference a hand-pump well or rainwater catchment tank can make!
Faith Rowold is the Communications Officer at Episcopal Relief & Development.