Do your part from a far country!
Jon & Dawn Barnes – South Africa
“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” – Proverbs 25:25
It is National Water Week in South Africa. Did you realize the following facts?
*About two-thirds of the human body is water.
*Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water. Less than one percent of the world’s surface or belowground fresh water is accessible for human use.
*The daily drinking water needs of every person is approximately four liters.
*A dairy cow has to drink forty liters of water to produce 10 liters of milk.
*A dripping tap can waste as much as 90 liters of water a week.
I was not aware of all the exact figures above until this National Water Week. However, what I am well aware of is the daily importance of water here in South Africa and the vast number of people who do not have access to such a necessity. In the Eastern Cape, where I serve, there are an estimated 1.7 million people currently without an adequate water supply and a further 2.9 million without sanitation. According to the South African government, basic water supply needs to provide 25 liters of potable water per person per day within 200 meters of a household and be available for at least 350 days per year.
To have running water inside your home is a sheer luxury! But even to have a running tap in your village is a dream come true. There are so many people in villages throughout this country who rely on rainwater or the local stream, lake, pond or mud puddle for their daily water supply. A typical workday for some women is rising early in the morning to carry a 5-gallon bucket on top of their heads to draw water for the day, sometimes having to walk a few kilometers. That water will be used to cook, clean and wash for the day. AND there is no hot water unless heated on the paraffin stove!
Do we, as Americans, think about how valuable the cold water we drink from our nice refrigerator is when we open it? Do we think about the woman with the water on top of her head when we are taking our nice 15-minute HOT showers? Do we stop and think that we are using more water to brush our teeth with than most people in South Africa use in a day’s time to wash their entire bodies? I am not sure that we stop and take in these things on a daily basis; we simply just take them for granted because water is there. It flows freely from our kitchen and bathroom sinks, as it is not a luxury, rather a basic utility. But, I would like to challenge you to do your part. You or I may not be able to provide water to the 1.7 million people here that do not have any, but we can do our part to conserve the world’s water supply. Do your part: fix leaking toilets and faucets, take a shorter shower, water plants in the early morning or late evening to minimize evaporation, and turn the water off when you brush your teeth. These are things that we can do on a daily basis to conserve and maybe even sacrifice as we think of our brothers and sisters in South Africa who do not have this luxury of water. Do your part!
As Proverbs 25:25 says let us bring good news from a far country, like cold water for the thirsty!
Rev. Dawn Barnes
Jonathan and Dawn Barnes are missionaries with the Kei Regional Council of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, South Africa. Jonathan serves in pastoral ministries among the churches in the region. Dawn serves in pastoral ministries and social work.