In the Danny Boyle film, "Millions," a little boy obsessed with the lives of saints finds a bag of money. The film (without revealing any spoilers) centers around how the money should be spent. In one scene the child, Damien, has a vision of the "Holy Martyrs of Uganda" who are working to build wells. One of the saints tells Damien that the water situation is so dire in Africa that the simple of act of washing one's hands is, in his country, an extravagance no one can afford.
For most of us, the idea of water as a material more precious that gold seems strange. Water, literally available to use with a tap of a finger, is as common as air. Imagine having to find air to breathe, having to hunt for air, having to travels miles each day to fill an air tank in order to breathe.
This is the case in many villages in Africa where water is concerned. In Sub-Saharan Africa, water is not readily available, not even for simple daily tasks like hand washing. Water must be collected daily, usually by women, some of whom walk 10 miles a day to find water. These women do not have tanks or cars or large containers to bring home the water they find; they are only able to collect that which they can carry. Even when water is found, the water source may be unsanitary, contaminated, or riddled with disease causing parasites.
Water, accessibility to water, is a basic human right since it is something no human being can live without. Sadly, in Africa, due to extreme poverty, this is a right that is denied simply due to the area in which one lives. Solving the water problem in Africa has a simple solution. It is one of the easiest of all human rights to restore as the water problem is rooted in politics, religion, or differing ideologies. All that is needed to alleviate this problem is pennies. Not billions of dollars in bailouts. Not any kind of stimulus program. Literally pennies. Just spare change, pennies that we often throw out or attempt to get rid of can be used to solve the African water problem.
How? By taking those pennies and putting them together and donating them to the African Well Fund where they will be used to dig wells in areas such the Sub-Saharan African country, Uganda. Pennies go a long way toward helping people in these regions in Africa. For example, in Rwanda, the total cost to fund two projects was $15,000 to assist 15,000 people. That is literally 100 pennies per person.
Getting involved in assisting the African Well Fund is simple, easy, and can be fun. For example, to remind yourself of the need for water while helping build wells at the same time, the AFW site suggests keeping a coffee can or jar by the sink and each time you use water, drop in a penny. Encourage friends to do the same. Collect these pennies for a month and see how much you have and then donate those pennies to the African Well Fund.
And as you count out your pennies, think of each set of 100 pennies your have not as a dollar, but as a person. Think of those 100 pennies as a human being who, thanks to your donation, will have access to one of the most basic of all human rights - water.
*~Aisling Ireland~* is long time human rights activist, a member of Amnesty International, a One Campaign supporter, writer, and an ordained Spiritual Counselor.
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