This Sunday, March 22, is World Water Day. In honor of this year’s theme – Water and Sustainability – I wanted to share a photo that we’ve never shared before. This photo comes from a school in Costa Rica, where WaterStep has one of its longest-standing programs. School girls are brushing their teeth and washing their hands at a sink. When my team tested the water at their school in 2013, it turned black with fecal contamination. When we showed the water sample to the principal, his face turned white with surprise.
School staff, including the principal, were trained how to operate and maintain the system. This is always the most exciting part of an installation. After being trained, you turn the tables and ask the trainees to train the trainer. Their faces change as they become confident in their ability to operate the system and provide safe water for their students. They no longer have to depend on someone else.
The students at this school depend on water at school, not just for drinking, but for eating, brushing their teeth, and washing their hands. Before, all of the students knew the importance of hygiene, but they were performing basic hygiene practices with dirty water. Now, trained staff members are able to continue to provide safe water every day for their students, so they can drink, eat, wash their hands, and brush their teeth with safe water. That’s a powerful thing, and it’s powerful because it’s sustainable.
The United Nations created World Water Day as an annual effort to call attention to the importance of safe drinking water. In Louisville, Kentucky, where I live, just one penny can provide 66 glasses of water from the faucet but around the world, 748 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water – that’s more than 2 ½ times the population of the United States. World Water Day is a day to celebrate what we’ve accomplished, and to look forward to what still needs to be done. In the last ten years, we’ve come a long way to providing safe water the millions of people that don’t have it, but we still have work to. There are still schools like this one.
There’s a school just like this in the rural community of Kaabowa Village, Uganda, where we are working to build a program as sustainable as the one in Costa Rica. You can be a part of World Water Day by helping us reach our ambitious goal of 22,000 shoes by March 22 that will support the first phase of this project.
Are you local? Want to learn more about the importance of water in the world and how you can be a part? Join us this Sunday for World Water Day at the Louisville Water Tower for a day of educational talks, interactive activities, and family fun to celebrate the world’s most precious resource. Guests to the WaterWorks Museum will learn the value of drinking water in this community and worldwide by helping to create a “water main” that will stretch across the front of the Museum. Guests can also donate spare change that will benefit drinking water efforts in other communities through the Louisville Water Foundation.
WHEN: Saturday, March 22nd, from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
WHERE: WaterWorks Museum at Louisville Water Tower Park, 3005 River Rd., Louisville, KY 40207