the heart of it

“Water is life.”

It was a simple statement, delivered with ease and sincerity. Jose hadn’t meant the proclamation to be insightful. It was merely a declaration of truth. It was no more than a statement of fact coming from a man who, until one year ago, had never had the convenience, the advantages, or the luxury of a clean, safe, reliable drinking water source. In the small community of La Esperanza in northern Nicaragua, none of its residents had.

At the end of an impossibly dry, dusty dirt road that sees few vehicles reaching the area, La Esperanza is more than simply off the beaten path. It is outside the reach of roads, outside the reach of electricity, and most certainly outside the reach of local government concern.

And yet, it is here that I witnessed the reach of Change for Children.

I have been involved with the Edmonton-based organization, Change for Children, for a number of years as a volunteer, a board member, and a communications coordinator. I have been exposed to the challenges associated with international development; I have learned the importance of partnering with, supporting and empowering southern partners to improve their communities; and I have been moved by the work that can be done by a small community of generous people committed to change.

I have traveled  to villages in Northern Nicaragua where money raised right here in Alberta went directly to drilling wells that now provide clean, safe, drinking water where before there was no such thing.

I have met the women who no longer spend several hours a day collecting water from contaminatedstreams. I have spoken with girls who can now attend school because they, too, don’t have to help with this task. I have seen the sense of pride and purpose on the face of Laura, the treasurer of the Water Committee established in the 200-person community of La Esperanza who collects $1 a month from each family in order to maintain the water system.

I have realized that the clean water I take for granted at home is truly life-giving and life-altering. I have witnessed the truth of Jose’s words.

And as I made my return trip down the dry, dusty dirt path away from La Esperanza, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it would be to have a hand in bringing “life” to another community.