Power outages and lack of running water are a part of life in Santo Domingo, which is more developed compared to the rest of the Dominican Republic. People here know how to continue on with their lives when everything else stops—something that is unthinkable to many Americans.
This topic got brought up today while I was talking to one of my friends who happens to live down the street from me here. She wondered if my apartment had water, or if it was just her house that was having problems. She then casually shrugged it off saying “Oh well it’ll be back soon,” knowing that it is very typical to have water and power go on and off throughout the week. When I brought up how normal it is here, and that it seems like a way bigger deal when the power goes out back in the States, she stated how she doesn’t want her daughter to have to be used to not having access to water or electricity. This is a very valid feeling. Nobody wants their child to go without access to things that are essential to daily life.
Although this was a very valid statement, we forgot that there are parents that can’t worry about what will happen if their child loses access to water or electricity, because they didn’t even have access to it in the first place. According to UNICEF, 315,000 children die each year from diarrhea disease, contracted from unsafe water. We need to stop worrying about what our own lives are lacking, and focus on what the children of the world so desperately need.
I see parents make daily sacrifices to help improve the lives of their children. I recently sat in on a meeting between members of three different communities who came together to plan the development of a new Healing Waters project. They wanted to ensure that they would always have access to clean water and that they wouldn’t have to spend all of their hard-earned money to purchase it.
One man, who happened to own a local corner store (called a colmado) which sells water, said that he would rather sacrifice his water sales to the water project than have the community go without the new water system. He knew that in the long run, the water project would benefit the community with its lower prices and health and hygiene interventions. It is selfless acts like these that change the lives of the children and pave a better path for their future.
Lives will be transformed with the development of this new water project. Not only will parents be assured that their children will always have access to clean water but they won’t have to spend large amounts of money to keep their children healthy. Their families will also have access to Health and Hygiene courses which will help children avoid simple health problems, such as diarrhea, so that they can stay in school.
It is amazing to see God at work in these communities. Water projects such as this one would not be successful if the community members were not willing to sacrifice themselves to make it work. Although the goal is to bring people clean water, it becomes so much more than that. It turns into a movement to improve every aspect of their lives.