Churches Spotlight Safe Water During Lent

Churches Spotlight Safe Water During Lent
By Ethan Cole|Christian Post Reporter

Several church bodies are tying a worldwide campaign for safe water to this year’s Lenten season.
The National Council of Churches, with partners Church World Service and Lifewater International, has created a website dedicated to encouraging Christians to remember the millions around the world who do not have access to clean water.

The organizations are reminding Christians that many women in Africa and Asia walk 3.7 miles a day to obtain water, and unclean water is the root cause of around 80 percent of the sicknesses in developing countries. Moreover, unclean water is behind the deaths of 5,000 children each day.

“Water is symbolic of our relationship with God, carrying the image of renewal, promise, and hope,” says NCC’s Jordan Blevins, who helped create the website, “Focusing on the global water, sanitation, and hygiene crisis for the Lenten journey brings us into better relationship with God, and all of God’s people.”

During Lent – which began on Feb. 17 for Western Christians and Feb. 15 for Eastern Orthodox Christians – believers reflect on the journey of Jesus Christ to the cross and the impact it has on their lives. Lent is the time of preparation for Easter and usually involves 40 days of prayer, fasting, and acts of compassion.

The WASH for Lent website includes devotional materials that can help readers during Lent pray, study and act on behalf of safe, affordable and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene in countries around the world. The word “WASH” in the website’s name stands for water, sanitation and hygiene.

In addition to NCC, another ecumenical church body, the World Council of Churches, is also encouraging its members to take up the cause of water justice. The WCC is posting weekly reflections exploring the connection between the way water is used in different liturgical practices and daily water use.

“This year’s Seven Weeks [for water] recall the deep liturgical roots of baptism and baptismal preparation as the heart of Lent, pointing to the use of water by the church at prayer,” says the Rev. Dr John Gibaut, director of the Commission on Faith and Order at the WCC. “The Christian community’s liturgical use of water has the potential to be a rich source of theological reflection about what water is, and about the care with which it is used.”

The weekly reflections are posted on the WCC’s website,, along with links and ideas for activities for individuals and congregations about water.

The reflections are provided by the Ecumenical Water Network, an initiative of Christian churches, organizations and movements that advocate access to clean water as a human right and work to promote people’s access to water through community-based initiatives.

Nearly one billion people in the world lack clean drinking water and 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation.


H2O Walk for life

H2O Walk (Walk for Water, Walk for Life)

What: A 5k Walk
Where: From Heuston Station Dublin to the O2 Music venue
When: Monday, March 22nd between 11.00 and 3.00. We will begin walking at 12.00

Make a Donation!!

Other important info:

Wear yellow or national dress or let me know what size T-shirt you would like by e-mailing The T-shirts have the walk for water logo and can be bought for €10. I need to know at least 2 weeks before our walk.

Bring plain plastic bottle to be filled with Liffey water! Or e-mail me to let me know to bring one for you. They will be available for purchase (€1) and you can paint your bottle yellow before our walk.


In celebration of World Water Day 2010, taking place on the second day of spring, H2O WALK FOR WATER is to be a 5K walk happening on Monday March 22 at 12.00 in Dublin. Please join us for this very fun walk for a great cause! It’s a symbolic walk from a place beginning with “H” (Heuston Station) to a place beginning with “O” (O2), mirroring the daily trek taken by millions of women and children around the globe in order to simply access the water their family needs to survive; this water is often unsafe to drink. The intention of this gesture is to increase awareness of such problems in the lesser developed world, as well as to remind people that our own water supplies are under threat from pollution, over-exploitation and climate-change. A secondary goal of this event is to attempt to raise the money needed to dig wells and supply pumps, in one of the most needy areas of the world, Northern Malawi. Every euro raised will give Water for Life to some of the poorest and most neglected people, which in turn will present them with much needed opportunities to improve their lives. Any donation online would be great or you could sponsor a walker, remembering that every single Euro counts.

H2O Walk tells us that the walk is 4.235 Km or for the metrically challenged 2.632 miles, as the crow flies, so for mere mortals its about 5km

Volunteering, but maybe not as we know it

Maybe Voluntouring is the beginning

I am just back from Malawi and should be dead or at least ready for the bed after 32 hours driving, flying, hanging around and waiting; not at all endearing but by far the worst part of our work in Malawi.
Arriving home I was driven to read and answer my emails and head out to talk to the Young Engineers Society, something I had agreed to months ago and hadn’t really planned.
The meeting was on volunteering and I felt that the students were bombarded with ideas of building houses, digging latrines, doing manual labour and raising funds for the pleasure of making their contribution to the other 90% somewhere around the globe. I was last of six presentations, and I’m sure I came across as a scattered nutter without a plan. In fact we have few impositions on our volunteers other than that the pay their way, be themselves, try to inspire, educate and challenge and absorb what they can every second of their short period of voluntouring. And even though we get all our volunteers to journey with our people in their daily lives, what can you achieve in one or two weeks; it’s a toe in the water (but don’t take that literally), a glimpse at society, a taste of what you might do in the future where ever you are.
What it can do is let you touch and feel, get little glimpses, shake a hand, hug a baby, blow a bubble and indicate solidarity. You can inspire, you can educate, make your mark and leave a lasting impression but permanent change is a long haul.
People often ask me would I not be better sending out the money and stay at home, and I suppose the idea has merit, but to the people we work with it’s more about inspiration and dignity than money.
Africa is full of monuments to egos. People want to do things for them rather than with them and so we have worked hard with communities to find out what they really need as distinct from what the want (everyone wants everything).
Women in villages always need and want water as a first priority, when we meet with them, food is second and education third. All our volunteering has a relation to these areas. We also build houses, schools and recently a factory and lodge, but we get local communities or contractors to do this work because we don’t like telling young highly educated white people that the value of their labour is less than 400 Kwacha a day (less than 2€), which is factual but not inspiring.
So what are short stay volunteers doing?: they’re learning. The other night I mentioned designing for the other 90%, but I think the point was lost, by me as well as the audience. The brains of the world are focused on technologies and goods for the developed rich world while so few focus on simple things for the poor and underdeveloped.
Why did I have to spend 9 months in 2005 trying to find a low cost, simple sustainable hand water pump: because no one was on it, except Richard Cansdale in the small village of Hartburn in Northumberland and a Baptist Minister in Bolivia. Why are so few on a cheap LED projector using low cost solar panels for education, strong bicycles for ambulances in rural areas.
Organic pesticides, green manure, ……….. It’s a huge market but maybe it’s seen as inferior and less financially rewarding.
What is wrong with simple technologies for the other 90%?.
Irish people are known for their innovative streak. We have large numbers of undergraduate and graduate thesis produced daily and I wonder what percentage focus on a real issue for the developing world. Is the fault with the institutions, the students, the academics or society in general?
For the past two years we have had hugely successful relationship with student volunteers from DIT and this year we have moved into placements and academic areas, which is very exciting.
Maybe these placements, and links in Malawi may expose students to the real issues, where those with a problem solving inquisitive nature may get a chance to work with real people and their problems and research real solutions. The academic value of volunteering has still to be tapped, and we are hoping our continued association with DIT in the area of Business, Marketing, Computer Science, Early Childhood Development, Nutrition, Solar Power and Students working with Communities will all provide opportunities for students to observe, understand and, most of all think, about finding solutions to the many issues holding back real development in a climate of aid dependency.
We hope to develop this work in a spirit of providing opportunity rather that handouts, believing that inspiration is much more powerful tool than charity.

World Water Day; The H2O walk

The good story here is that the water is clean from a new pump


Nearly one billion people lack access to safe water and 2.5 billion do not have improved sanitation. The health and economic impacts are staggering.
The UN has declared access to clean water a Human Right!

• 3.575 million people die each year from water-related diseases. (7 every Minute)
• 43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea.
• 84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 – 14.
• 98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.
• 884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.
• The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives than war, AIDS, flu, car accidents, murders, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, and famine.
• At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
• Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water you can expect to live only a few days.
• Over 50 percent of all water projects fail; less than five percent of projects are re visited after completion, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring.
These are frightening, overwhelming and incomprehensible figures


In Northern Malawi,

Wells for Zoe

can give clean water to ONE, remote, rural villager






March 22