Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Raise You One Ice Bucket Challenge

On Sunday I had the exquisite pleasure of watching my daughter videotape my husband as he poured a bucket of ice water onto his head. Later that same night, I watched videos of both my brother and my brother-in-law doing the same. (You'll notice that the women in my family tend to be the ones behind the camera, not beneath the buckets.) I'm all for the ice bucket challenge: it's fun, it raises awareness, and it raises money to research treatments for ALS, a terrible disease.

But. ALS is small potatoes on a global scale. Around 5600 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease each year, which is similar to the number of Americans who will die from asthma attacks, and roughly a tenth as many who will be killed in car crashes. Globally, the number of people annually diagnosed with ALS is around half a million. Half a million sounds like a huge number, until you consider this: 2.5 billion people (5000 times as many) lack access to safe, clean drinking water. One child dies every 21 seconds due to diseases caused by unsafe water; lack of clean water is now the number one cause of death in children under age 5, and kills more children than the number 2, 3, 4, and 5-ranked causes of death combined. Around the world, unsafe water causes more deaths per year than all forms of violence, including war.

In developing countries, transporting water--walking to a well or stream, collecting water, and walking home--consumes approximately 200 million hours of time per year, time that could be spent growing crops, working, or going to school. When a community gets access to safe nearby drinking water, their productivity increases in many ways.

A few weeks ago my husband and I went to an event for Wine to Water, an international organization started right down the road from our home in Linville. I've been paying more attention to water issues ever since. Then yesterday, I finally got challenged. Not the Ice Bucket Challenge. Instead, my friend Cindy Holmes posted her I Raise You One Ice Bucket Challenge. She's found someone to donate matching funds to CharityWater, and she challenged me not just to give money, but to spread the word. Here you go, Cindy--much more fun than ice water on my head!

I'd like to help spread the word, too: so I challenge Sarah Randall, Julie Brubaker, Lauren Ries, and Glennon Doyle Melton to take up the cause. Oh, and if you'd like to donated to Wine to Water instead, or peruse their excellent website, go here.