Before I dive into my Day 4 update, I want to take a moment to thank the commenters who responded to my blog post on empathy yesterday. Your support and positive sentiments have made this challenge worthwhile, and I appreciate you taking time out of your day to share the post with your social networks.
There was a point during the day where lovely little boxes of Harry & David’s treats (like chocolate-covered pretzels, butter cookies sandwiched with apricot jam and popcorn with heavenly bits of caramel and nuts) were presented to the office — but I took one look and knew the answer was “no.” I went to my desk and shoved a spoonful of brown sugar into my face before getting back to work.
There’s one thing that I actually haven’t mentioned to you about Live Below the Line’s challenge — we can drink all the water we want. It’s not part of our $1.50 a day allotment (although other drinks, like coffee unfortunately, are). Our policy intern, Jack Breslauer, pointed out that many people in the developing world — one billion, to be exact — don’t have access to safe water. And here I was calling my daily egg ration a luxury!
After doing a little more research, I was shocked to learn that people living in the slums often pay five to 10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city. So, the poor are faced with an unfair choice: they can spend a big chunk of their wages on safe drinking water, or save that money for food and drink water from elsewhere. If it were up to me, I would ditch the clean water and take my chances at the local well — but of course, life for the world’s poorest people isn’t that easy.
Many sources for water are located miles and miles away and oftentimes polluted, and the burden of collecting water usually falls to women and children. In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water. Jerry cans — the plastic bins they use to carry the water — weigh a whopping 40 pounds. Could you imagine a child having to carry that on their back? This might help:
Lastly, lack of access to safe drinking water is one of the major reasons why poor children get diarrhea, the second-leading cause of child death in the developing world. Diarrhea, which kills about 1.5 million kids each year, kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. You’ve heard this all before — it’s why we’re asking people to sign our vaccines petition.
Poor parents would spend money on clean water if they could afford it or had better access to it. But they can’t and they don’t. And because of this, they’re putting their kids at risk of disease. It must be a terrible feeling, and I would not want to be in their position. As I sit here with a glass of filtered water, the only thing I have to fill me up before dinnertime, believe me when I tell you that I am grateful for it, and that those one billion people without access to clean water are on my mind.
Check the ONE Blog tomorrow for updates on Day 5.