PROVIDING FILTERED WATER SUPPLY TO THOSE WHO NEED IT
The third way we could improve access to clean water is through giving filtered water jugs to communities who do not have a way of obtaining healthy water. For example, organizations like Global Medical Brigade’s Water Brigade has workers and volunteers take safe water into communities that do not have access to clean water. By giving them this luxury, it not only supplies them with what they need, but this organization also gives the education on clean water drinking practices and the value of clean water itself. People in these struggling communities understand that water should not be taken for granted because they are giving a limited amount based on their needs. Unlike privileged societies that we live in, these communities do not know exactly when their next delivery may be and what extremes they may have to go to in the time being if or when they run out of their safe water resources. Countries in Central America such as Honduras, have people who live on very limited and small budgets for themselves and their family. When these people run out of drinkable water, they then have to spend their limited paycheck on water, which they usually cannot afford. This results in higher dehydration and obesity levels because the people are buying soda and other carbonated beverages, which are cheaper than water, to quench their thirst. By having water shipped to people who need it, this not only gives them safe water, but also hope and something to look forward to in their life. This also circulates the economy by creating new jobs and increasing the employment rate within the water company and the companies that help deliver the water to the final destination.
THE EXPERIENCE THAT CHANGED ME
After traveling and helping four different communities in Honduras for nine days, completely opened my eyes to our society and how wasteful we are with the water we have. We take advantage of water in ways such as creating water parks, watering our grass, and just dumping out our bottles because the water is not the perfect temperature. After seeing what the people in Honduras have to endure on a daily basis, I feel guilty complaining about my own life. People live in houses built of mud, sticks, or plastic. They keep their water in unsanitary buckets that are open outside where all the wild chickens, dogs, and cats roam around freely. They have to boil their water before using it because it is filled with harmful bacteria and parasites. Since there is such a lack of water, brushing their teeth is the last task on their list to do because they do not want to waste the only water they have. Due to the lack of dental hygiene and care, the majority of the population has mouths full of decayed teeth and cavities. A tooth that gets that bad to a certain point can not only harm the mouth and gums, but infections can happen and travel to the brain as well. In Honduras when I was put on dental rotation, I saw teeth extractions all day. One woman had to have six teeth pulled and it took over an hour just for one tooth. This is all due to not having safe water available to each community. These problems would not exist or would greatly decrease if the access to healthy water increases and greatly improves in countries like Honduras.
All the while, the things we complain about most of the time do not compare to what people there have to deal with. The mentality of the things we want and think are 'needs' in the United States does not even come close in comparison to the wants and actual needs in the daily life of Honduras. These people struggle with money, holding jobs, and basically living on a day to day basis as they dehydrate in the heat everyday.
After spending a lot of time with the people living in the communities, especially the children, you realize that even though you do not speak the same language and there is a language barrier, the respect that I showed them and they showed me, proves that humans are all alike and need to help each other no matter where they are from or whatever language they speak.
When spending three straight days with the children in dental rotation, you come to feel for these kids. I gained a massive amount of respect for them because I could never live the way they do and I could never imagine not being able to go to high school because I could not afford the bus to take me to the nearest big city which was hours away. I could not imagine waiting and seeing a doctor only twice a year when it was free and it was not in a real hospital but in a beaten up old school with groups of volunteers coming to give the health screenings. Although it seems miserable the way these children live, they act the far opposite of it. These children are kind, caring, and love teaching you spanish vocabulary. They love to laugh at your funny accent and give you personal items of theirs as though they want you to take a little memory of them back home. They also love to teach you games in spanish and you play along having no idea what the words mean. These children are the most toughest and happiest children I have ever seen in my life, yet they live in complete poverty and do not have access to clean water. After spending days with the children and bonding with them, you do not want to leave them behind in the state that they live in. You want them to have the absolute best in the world. That is why I am so passionate about going back and telling others so we all can volunteer, donate, and help this cause of improving universal water access.
In the end, men, women, and children are all affected by not having access to clean water, which directly reflects back to the infrastructure of society in Honduras. Seeing how these people live and how not having safe drinking water affects them in all sorts of ways physically and mentally, formed the passion to further my public health education and help make drinkable water be available across the globe.