An activity and discussion for youth to help visualize the world's distribution of water and see how important our conservation efforts are.
Water is a precious natural resource. Because in many parts of the world it seems so abundant, we might easily take it for granted. The following activity can help participants visualize the world’s distribution of water and see how important our conservation efforts are.
You will need two clear five-gallon containers filled with water, two small clear pitchers, one measuring cup, one tea cup and one eyedropper. As you talk about the existence of water on the planet, remove the appropriate quantities of water into other containers.
Begin your discussion by stating that all the water in the world is represented by these two five-gallon containers. Yet, 97.1% of all water on earth is in oceans and seas. Such water contains solids — mostly salts — and can be used for transportation, but not for drinking, washing, irrigating crops or other industrial purposes. The earth’s fresh water equals 4 1/2 cups.
Place this amount into a pitcher. Of this amount, 3 1/2 cups are located in glaciers, ice caps, soil or the atmosphere — not directly available for use. Place the one remaining cup of water into the second pitcher. This is the fresh water available to us. But of this, some is in insolated areas with limited access; some is trapped underground; some is polluted. Put ten drops into the tea cup. This is the amount of fresh water readily available to human beings. There is simply not enough fresh water on the planet to support North American consumption patterns for every human being. Then, read the following story:
Juana is an eleven-year-old who lies in the Balver community in the Chalatenango region of El Salvador. Balver is a new community of about 30 Salvadoran families who recently returned to El Salvador after several years in exile in neighboring Honduras. They had fled El Salvador during the civil war and after receiving a small grant of land, returned to rebuild their lives in their homeland.
Juana’s father was killed during the war and she now lives with her grandfather, her aunt and several cousins in a small two-room house. She is bright and delightful, with an infectious smile. Juana also works very hard every day. Each morning, she rises early and joins other young people in her community on a 30-minute walk to get her family’s daily water supply, which she brings back in a five-gallon jug balanced carefully on her head. Then she gathers her family’s clothes and, at a nearby creek, she washes, scrubs and hangs to dry the day’s laundry. After a breakfast of beans and tortillas (and sometimes a scrambled egg), she’s off to school where she studies math, reading, literature, science and English.
In the afternoon, Juana helps her aunt around the house and looks after her younger cousins. Sometimes she helps her grandfather milk the family cow and tend the family garden. She also enjoys playing soccer with the other kids in the community.
Juana gives thanks to God for the opportunity for a new life in her new home in Balver.
Discuss with the youth how they obtain and use water. Compare these comments to the story about Juana.
From Week of Compassion