~ By Natalie Grazian, Give Clean Water Summer Intern 2013
No matter how taxing my day is, the risk of contracting typhoid or E.coli from my water source will never make my list of concerns. It takes a moment to reorient myself, to enter a frame of mind where I can even imagine, what if it did? My priorities would have to be uprooted, flipped upside down and forcefully shaken.
Would I be free to enjoy and experience life, as I rightfully should? This Blog Action Day, Give Clean Water is joining the discussion for the year’s multidimensional, thought-provoking topic: human rights.
So what exactly are we entitled to, as fellow homo sapiens? Any moral compass pointing relatively north will tell us that the ideals of justice, freedom and equality are good while such things as slavery, starvation and discrimination are bad. But in case there are any uncertainties, we have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—a wonderful and enlightened 1948 document that details the inalienable rights that inherently belong to every human with a heartbeat.
A brief history: At the end of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly got to work on a document meant to prevent such tragedy in the future by specifying which rights are due to all human beings. The culturally, religiously, and politically diverse drafting committee, chaired by our very own Eleanor Roosevelt, came to a few conclusions; these were organized into thirty articles that cover just about every beautiful liberty we ought to have.
Article 1 dives right in to the important issues of freedom and equality. By Article 25, each person’s right to adequate food and shelter is established. And by Article 30 we are bestowed a good education, privacy, and the right to generally enjoy life.
But in the spirit of GCW, I think something might have been left out—something synonymous with life, something so essential that it goes unspoken—let’s think about water.
After all: You can’t bake a cake without flour, you can’t play tennis without a racquet . . . you can’t be granted freedom against discrimination without life, and you can’t live without water. Water is the prerequisite; the vital, magical little H20 molecule lays a foundation for which all other human rights can be built upon.
GCW is steadfastly committed to every person’s Right to Water (let’s call it Article 31). It is our passionate ambition to install water filters around the world, because the truth is that a contaminated water supply destroys so much, and hurts so many. In the Fijian islands, where we’ve concentrated our efforts for the past five years, the tap water is all too often contaminated with typhoid, E.coli and other microorganisms; typhoid outbreaks plague the villages, and government sanctioned quarantines are a necessary common practice. The result makes the rest of the villagers’ basic human rights difficult to realize.
On this Blog Action Day, let’s raise a glass (of water) to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and as is written in its preamble, to “the inherent dignity of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. At Give Clean Water, we believe that it all must start with a groundwork—the establishment of safe, clean, abundant water—and only good things will spring from there. The GCW family of workers, volunteers, donors, sponsors, and local community members has worked to lay that groundwork for over 50,000 people so far. And with about 40,000 of them in Fiji, the thought that we might provide clean water for the entire country isn’t so crazy.
No one should be preoccupied with becoming ill from drinking water. One filter at a time, we’re holding true to the Declaration and serving human rights where human rights are due . . . that’s how we’ll change the world.