What Would You Give Up for Clean Water?

Did you know that we are a little less than 20 days away from Christmas? Thanksgiving recently passed and the holiday season is officially in full swing. If you're anything like me, this information gets you really excited. Who doesn't love the holidays? However, the holidays are more than just gifts, parties, and secret santa exchanges. It is our annual reminder to pause and think about what we are thankful for.  

As I sat at my desk today sorting through the pictures from our recent scouting trip to the Dominican Republic, I stumbled upon this picture from a few months ago. When our engineers first went to El Jobo to conduct a study for the possibility of a water project, they quickly realized that there was no location where a tank could be built at the proper altitude. After asking various landowners if we could use a small portion of their property for the construction of the tank, we came up short. This project didn't seem like a possibility until José entered our lives.

When I first met José, we talked for about two hours. You could tell in his warm smile and conversation that he would do anything for his community, especially if it meant bringing clean water to over 75 families. And José did just that.  Upon hearing about the problem we were facing, José, without hesitation, offered to tear down the kitchen of his beautifully painted, two bedroom house so the tank could be constructed.

 The tank now sits in the same spot where Jose's kitchen used to be. Here he is posing next to the tank. Although you can't see it in his face, he was so overjoyed by the fact that the tank was situated right next to his house. 

The tank now sits in the same spot where Jose's kitchen used to be. Here he is posing next to the tank. Although you can't see it in his face, he was so overjoyed by the fact that the tank was situated right next to his house. 

José gave up half of his land so that his community would be able to get clean water. It is hard for us to even imagine what it is like to tear down your entire kitchen just to get water. Growing up in the United States or in any first world country, water has always been at our disposal. We do not have to walk more than 20 steps to get to the nearest faucet or toilet. It wasn't until I personally experienced living in a community without access to water or proper sanitation that I became aware of the struggles and sacrifices people have to make to get water. 

The campesinos I have met through the years are some of the most loving and caring people I have ever connected with. They will give you their last plate of food or their only baseball glove just because it is in their nature to give. They may not have a lot of personal possessions or even clean water but they are extremely wealthy in life, happiness, and community. José is one of the most extraordinary men I have met thus far. I have never seen someone tear down a portion of their house and land, just to see their community get clean water.

Through out this holiday season and into the new year I am challenging myself and you to be more like José and give. It doesn't have to be something as big as tearing down your kitchen, just simple acts of kindness. Give time to your little brothers and sisters, help them with homework or go with them to play outside. Next time you see a homeless person on your commute to work, give them the snack bar you were saving for later. Clean out your closet and give the clothes you haven't touched in years to someone in need. Help your mom bring in the groceries or help your dad mow the lawn. Go out of your way to help someone you love or a perfect stranger.

Always remember, what would you give up for clean water? Happy Holidays!