Life

Do you hear
the deafening declaration
of the definite,
the dauntless,
dissolving the dawn?

Do you taste
the whorling whirlwind
the whizzing wonder
of the wilderness
in winter?

Do you see
the homebound hero
hobbling
here and there,
heartbroken?

Do you feel
the rhythmic rolling,
radiant, remorseless rumbling
rocking the revolution
as it roars?

Do you smell
the aroma of addiction
arousing the animal
alive inside
as it awakens?

Do you know
the pang of pollution,
purity plundered,
passion pulsing
powerlessly?

Do you ever experience
this wondrous world
you wander in?
The wisteria
and the willow,
The whistler
and the whittler,
the woodpecker
and the windchimes,
the wonderers
and the wanderers.

Have you met
the traveller?
Twisted tree,
Torn temple,
Tireless twinkling eyes.

“Welcome to the world.”

 

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How Access to Clean Water Can Break the Cycle of Poverty

“Mommy, I’m thirsty.”

Weeks later, she died.

The medic said the diarrhea came from something in the water, and they all believed him. She hadn’t been the first to go. And she wouldn’t be the last.

Over 750 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, and every year, more than 840,000 people die from easily preventable, water-related diseases. To put it into perspective, there are more people without access to clean water than two-and-half times the entire population of the United States, and more die every year from diseases from polluted water than live in the city of San Francisco. The fact is, every minute a child dies from a water-borne disease, 1 in 9 people worldwide don’t have access to clean water, and more people have a mobile phone than a sanitary toilet.

There’s obviously a problem here, and it’s a big one. It becomes even bigger when you look at the broader effects of this appalling lack of what many take for granted. Not only are people in the millions suffering, hundreds of thousands dying, the effects spread to every aspect of personal and community life, branching out from health to education and the economy.

Aside from the obvious health risks, of dehydration, of disease, of death, the lack of clean water has a ripple effect that spreads like a drop of dye in ever-broadening circles in its impact on personal and community life. Women and children worldwide, for instance, spend on average six hours a day walking long, treacherous miles to collect water to sustain them and their families–only, more often than not, this water that they so desperately need to survive is the very thing that poisons them. Even aside from this, the sheer amount of time spent retrieving this water is severely harmful in that it prevents them from working to help support the family financially and improve their conditions. The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water, the equivalent to a whole year’s worth of labor by France’s entire workforce. In addition, many children are prevented from attending school, because they have to help carry water. This only furthers the vicious cycle of poverty, dragging them deeper into what seems an inescapable detrimental spiral and robbing them of their futures.

In addition, lack of access to clean water can lead not only to dehydration but even malnutrition or starvation. Access to fresh water is fundamental in relieving global hunger. 84% of people who don’t have access to clean water are also the people who live in rural areas where the only food they’re going to get is likely the food they grow themselves. Reliable access to water can bring greater crop security, and significantly reduce the very real risk many people worldwide face of acute hunger.

Finally, and perhaps most critically, hygiene and sanitation are dramatically improved by access to clean water. Simple but crucial habits like brushing teeth and washing hands are impossible without access to this basic resource. In developing countries, 80% of all illnesses are linked to poor water and/or sanitary conditions. Children are especially vulnerable to the dangerous, invisible bacteria living in the water they drink, because their immune systems are less familiar with the potentially fatal diseases caused. 1 in 5 deaths of children under the age of five is caused by a water-related disease.  Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, die every year from simple diarrhea, caused by inadequate drinking water and poor sanitary conditions.

For many people, poverty is a fact of life. And to me, this is not okay. It might be easy to ignore, that people are dying every day on the other side of the world, to dismiss it as another list of numbers or a tragedy I can’t do anything about.

But the thing is…maybe I can.

Maybe we can.

Without water, it’s all but impossible to break out of the cycle of poverty. The World Health Organization estimates that $260 billion are lost globally each year due to lack of access to clean water. Without it, you can’t grow food, you can’t stay healthy, you can’t go to school or keep working, let alone learn a trade.

The World Health Organization has also shown that every $1 invested in water and sanitation provides, on average, a $4 economic return. And in many places, those few dollars may mean saving a life. Saving a father, brother, mother, sister, child, friend from death. Saving your children from repeating the same weary cycle of suffering.

Numerous organizations exist where for only a few dollars, anyone can help to do this. Some of my favorites are the ones I listed in my Works Cited list. Even if you can’t travel to Africa and dig a well, you might be able to change the fate of an entire community. Water gives hope, and offers the simple opportunity for a better future that without it, is impossibly out of reach.

Works Cited

“Millions Lack Safe Water.” Waterorg. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/>.

“Project Humanity – The Power of Clean Water.” Project Humanity RSS. 10 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://projecthumanity.org/>.

“Why Water – Access to Clean, Safe Water in Africa.” The Water Project. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://thewaterproject.org/why-water>.

Be Part of The #WaterEffect | World Vision.” World Vision. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015. <http://www.worldvision.org/water&gt;

A Real Kind of Faith

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According to the Voice of the Martyrs website, Iraq had 1.5 million Christians in 2003. However, that number is now down to roughly 400,000. In the last 11 years, more than two-thirds of Iraq’s Christians fled, emigrated, or were killed. This is largely due to Islamic military groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Iraq is not alone. Nearly 30 other countries worldwide are religiously “restricted,” meaning that government laws restricting religious freedom lead to Christians being harassed, imprisoned, killed, or deprived of their possessions because of their witness; Christians are also unable to receive Bibles or other Christian literature. In many other places (“hostile” nations), despite government attempts to provide protection for the Christian populations, believers are routinely harassed, beaten, and persecuted by family, friends, neighbors or political groups.

In August of this year, more than 50,000 children and adults were slaughtered in Iraq and Syria because of their faith, and families were/are fleeing from the state into the mountains with nothing. It’s like a second Holocaust. And it’s a scary thought–because it’s real. In fact, it could happen to me. My brother. My sisters. My parents. The people I love, full of vibrant life–a knock on the door and they disappear.

It’s a heavy thought, but one worth considering.

How real is my faith to me? How much am I willing to give up? How serious am I about this?

Christ said that those who lose this life will gain it. He said that the world would hate us because they hated him. He said this world is not our home.

It’s time to believe that. It’s time to start living like that.

This year I’ve realized what the word believe means. It’s not a surface thing. It’s not something you just say when it comes to mind every so often. It’s something that worms its way so much deeper than that, to the very core of who you are. It starts to dwell at the heart of your subconscious, at the root of your soul, and everything you do gets filtered through it without you even realizing it.

It’s also a choice. A choice you have to make, a choice where not choosing is still a choice. You can work to develop it, to shape it, to ingrain it, to internalize it.

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And I believe it. I do. With a conviction that goes deeper than words. I am convinced of a truth that surpasses time and imagination. My God is a God who is real, who is alive, who is in control and at work. Nothing can change it, stop it, block it or twist it.

So I give myself to You. Wholly and completely. Take me, make me, shake me, break me, shape me. I am yours, now and forever. Use me, God. Make me bold for You.

I believe.

–Bre

 

P.S. If you’re interested in supporting the persecuted community, you can check out the Voice of the Martyrs website at persecution.com. You can sign up for their free monthly newsletter, send letters to prisoners and to government officials in other countries, send action packs, help get Bibles into restricted nations, donate financially, and above all, pray. Please, please pray, because prayer has the power to change the world.