By Brett Milam
From every flush of the toilet to every load of laundry to that 20-minute shower in the morning, Americans use at least 80 to 100 gallons of water a day, according to the United States Geological Survey.
However, in Ghana, Mali, Niger, Bangladesh and other developing countries, water and especially clean water, is not so easy to come by. For instance, mostly women and girls carry a full jerry can, which weighs 40 pounds, almost 4 miles for their daily needs.
To put it into perspective, flushing a toilet takes 3 to 7 gallons or 1-2 jerry cans per flush. A shower takes 17 gallons or 3 jerry cans per shower. The washing machine takes 25 gallons or 5 jerry cans per load.
World Vision, a global humanitarian Christian organization and the world’s largest non-governmental provider of clean water, thinks this constitutes a water crisis. But the organization, which operates in 90 countries, provided 3.2 million people with clean water in 2017.
Holly Metzger, from Maineville, Ohio, represents World Vision as a child sponsor for the organization, and for her, missions to places like Bangladesh and other developing countries, has been something that God gave her the passion for.
“Being in youth group in high school and traveling to places like Venezuela and Mexico and then onto studying missions in college with a study abroad to Honduras, I had been exposed to what life is like for so many in the third world. These are some hard places and these people had some hard stories,” she said.
When she became a newlywed, Metzger said her and her husband felt called to act to help the most vulnerable across the globe, especially children.
“So we began sponsoring a child through World Vision. Over the years, having three daughters of our own, World Vision has become the way our family gives to and connects with children in need,” she said. “We now sponsor 4 children as a family and I volunteer as a Child Ambassador for World Vision to connect other families, churches and individuals with sponsorship, as well.”
After a recent trip to Bangladesh with other Child Ambassadors, Metzger said she saw how it changes lives.
“I have seen the effects of how sponsoring one child helps to facilitate change for an entire community through digging water wells, education, sanitation projects and child protection,” she said.
World Vision works in nearly 100 countries, including the United States, and their vision is building that community by giving ownership and training to local people so they can maintain water wells, “ensuring the water will continue to flow long after the work ends,” Metzger said.
Even though great progress has been made in the last 25 years – 2 billion people reached to be given access to clean water – more than 844 million people around the world still lack access.
World Vision’s goal is to provide every community they work in clean water and sanitation by 2030.
“If you can provide clean water for someone and take away the need for them to make that dangerous 6 kilometer (on average) walk every day to collect water that will make them sick, it enables them to use that time they’d normally spend walking for water and get an education,” she said.
Metzger said she tells people that, “WATER IS LIFE.” Having access to it doesn’t just free up time to get an education, but for many of these kids, it frees up time to…be a kid.
On May 19, World Vision and Metzger are holding a Global 6K for Water, with one happening in Cincinnati on the 12th.
“Like sponsorship, the Global 6K for Water is a very tangible way to reach across the globe and literally save a life and change the world,” she said. “When you and your children walk that 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) together, you imagine that you are carrying that jerry can full of water. It’s heavy. The walk is hot. The walk is long. The walk is dangerous.”
Metzger added, “And, you are wearing a race bib with a specific child that you are walking/running for. So, it becomes personal!”
Often the water fetched in the developing countries comes from dirty rivers and leaves children sick. Every day, nearly 1,800 children under the age of five die from diarrhoeal diseases linked to water, sanitation and hygiene issues, according to UNICEF.
“You can help a child fulfill their dreams, instead of filling up buckets of water,” Metzger said.
The Global 6K for Water comes to the Loveland Bike Trail on May 12 at 9 a.m.
For more information about the run and how to donate to the cause, please go to http://www.teamworldvision.org/team/EUMC.