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Water . . . Water . . . Everywhere?

I drink anywhere from 24oz to 64oz of water EVERY DAY. On the days that I only drink 24oz of water, I really

notice the thirst. My mouth feels like sandpaper and my lips start to peal. Singing and talking start to sound more like croaking. And the headaches! Oi!

It's really amazing to think of all the ways that water is a part of my life:

I have 10 faucets in/on my house. And by "faucet" I mean a way that water can get into and out of my house for some purpose. I have 2 bathrooms, each with a sink, toilet, and shower. So that is 6 faucets right there. I have 1 kitchen with 1 sink. I have a laundry room 1 faucet for the washer. Plus, I have 2 faucets on the outside of my house for hoses (1 in front and 1 in back). 6+1+1+2=10. 10 FAUCETS!! 10 ways for me to have easy access to water for a variety of purposes in my home, with very minimal effort on my part. And believe me, those faucets get used!

There are 4 people who live in my house. That's 4 showers/baths every day; anywhere from 32 to 200 ounces of drinking water every day; at least 16 hand washes every day; more toilet flushes than I can count (sometimes just for the fun of it); plus all the water we use for cooking, cleaning, and playing.

I never really thought about how much water was a part of my daily life until several months ago when we suddenly couldn't drink our water anymore. Every time we used our kitchen faucet (the faucet that we use for our drinking water), white or black debris started coming out in the water. And we couldn't figure out the problem--it wasn't our pipes and it wasn't the faucet itself. The crazy thing is: it seemed relegated to just the kitchen sink. So could we have gotten water from one of our other faucets? Yes. We did, in fact, start using water from the bathroom sink to cook with. But for drinking water, we seemed locked on the idea that drinking water comes from the kitchen sink!

So we started buying bottled water from the store. That got really expensive really quickly! And then I remembered that here in Ogden we have a natural spring that is set up for easy access to the water.

Once I remembered The Stump Spring, I gathered my water bottles and drove the 6 miles to the spring

to get my family's drinking water. About once every 10 days, I make this 6 mile drive to get fresh drinking water. All told, the roundtrip journey takes me about 45 minutes. That's it. Just 45 minutes out of my day, once a week or so.

And even though it takes such a short amount of time out of my life, the inconvenience of it all really affects me and my family. There are times that I don't pay enough attention to how much water we have, and I let us run out of drinking water. We never realize how thirsty we are until we are completely out of drinking water! I look at the kitchen faucet and long for the days when I could just open the water and drink my fill. There have been times when I have to ration our water so that it will last until I can get to the Stump. I start getting grumpy with my family if they waste the drinking water. "Don't pour that water down the sink! You drink it or save it!" Suddenly, every ounce of water matters! And this went on for about 10 months.

But then, about 6 weeks ago, our water heater had to be replaced. And guess what? The problem got solved! No more debris in our water. The kitchen sink water is again 100% safe to use. And yet, we still don't drink the water. After all those months of not being able to use the kitchen water, it's hard to trust that we can actually drink it again. The mental damage has been done, and we hesitate to trust, to believe, that life can just go back to normal.

And so we still drive the 6 miles to the Stump for our drinking water once a week or so.

And I realize that if my family can be so dramatically affected by JUST the loss of drinking water for less than a year, the affect of not having ANY water for your entire life would be even more significant! I was simply inconvenienced for a short time. There are people who are actually deprived all of the time.

The families in Ivuukula, Uganda have no faucets in their homes. They don't even have easy access to a spring. They have to walk, WALK, several miles to a well. They leave their homes carrying empty jerry cans.

The return walk home is the most difficult part. Now they have to walk for several miles carrying heavy jerry cans. Sometimes the jerry cans are so big that one child cannot carry it alone, so 2 or 3 children work together to carry this heavy jerry can back to their home.

The "lucky" families are the ones who live just a 15 or 20 minute walk from the well. Those families can send the children alone to get water. But the village of Ivuukula isn't "lucky". The mothers walk with their children to fetch water, because the roundtrip journey can take a few hours. And they aren't just fetching drinking water like I do. They are making this long journey to the well to get ALL of their water--for drinking, for cooking, for washing clothes and dishes, for bathing, for cleaning the ground where they go to bathroom, etc.

And they do this EVERY SINGLE DAY! In the blistering hot sun or the torrential rain, they still walk for water every day. Because a day that they don't go to the well is a day that they literally have no water.

Rationing water. Getting grumpy with your family. Feeling your skin get dehydrated. All the things that I have felt due to my inconvenience are the same things these families feel, only intensely magnified, due to their deprivation. On top of this, lack of water also leads to poor hygiene and a myriad of health problems.

I imagine the day that a borehole is drilled in Ivuukula and the families suddenly are only a 15 or 20 minute walk away from a clean water source. . . . Suddenly they are the "lucky" ones who can send the kids alone to fetch water. Suddenly they can carry smaller jerry cans and make multiple trips to the well in a single day! What a joyous, exciting celebration that will be! And yet, I wonder if there will also be some trepidation, some hesitation? After a lifetime of the daily walk for miles to fetch water, will they be able to trust this new water source? Will it immediately change their lives, or will it take time for them to get used to this new-found freedom? It could take days, weeks, or even months for the water-rationing to end, allowing family members access to as much water as they want. It could take weeks, months, or even years for families to stop fighting and/or abusing each other over water.

But this much is true: the sooner they have access to clean water, the sooner change can happen.

Water. Who would have thought that so much could be affected by water?

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