Today is World Water Day. Currently, there are almost 1 BILLION people without access to clean drinking water. To put that in perspective, that is 1 out of every 8 people on the planet.
Some quick facts about water (credit is due charity:water for these facts):
- Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
- 90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old.
- In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water. Women and children bear the brunt of this labor.
Here’s the deal. We have many problems in America. For the most part, access to clean drinking water is not one of them. I completely agree we should work on problems here, but that need not necessitate us leaving millions without hope. For the price of a night out to eat, a movie, or a couple of Starbucks, you can drastically change someone’s life.
Christians, let us put our money where our mouths are. “For God so loved the world” means more than our tiny part of it. We build up vast nest eggs to live lives of luxury by the time we are 60, but can we spare a few dollars for some who may not see 60 without our help?
Let me be clear: this IS a gospel issue. Why on earth would people care to hear about a loving God if His people will not care for their most immediate needs? Let us not be so cruel as to send missionaries to the farthest corners to share the Good News, but willfully neglect millions (many children) as they suffer the cruel fate of being born into an impoverished area.
Love knows no borders. Love knows no race. Love knows no culture.
If you would like to give, these organizations do fantastic work (there are others, just do your homework before you donate):
Wine to Water
Even if it’s just a few dollars, would you please consider giving the gift of water to someone today?
They have now confirmed over 150,000 deaths in Haiti. The massive earthquake injured and/or displaced thousands more. Families are still looking for lost loved ones, food and water are scarce, and many people sleep without shelter. The situation in Haiti is heartbreaking.
It’s hard to believe that less than 100 miles away is a tropical paradise. Labadee, Haiti is one port of call for the Royal Caribbean International cruise line. Kayaking, scuba diving, lounging on the beach, endless buffets, etc. Truly, a remarkable place. My question is:
In light of the devastating earthquake, would you continue on your vacation to Labadee? Or, pretend your Royal Caribbean, do you still use that port?
Here are some questions to consider:
- Does proximity matter? Many argue that it’s wrong for vacationers to be partying only miles from the devastation. That seems valid. We wouldn’t go have a party near a funeral. On the other hand, what’s the difference between someone sipping champagne in Labadee than in Michigan? Life has “gone on” in other places so at what point is it viable to use Labadee? How far do you have to be away to begin normal life? 100 miles? 200 miles?
- Is tourism helpful? Royal Caribbean is donating $1 million in aid plus the revenue generated from Labadee. Each ship is also packed with relief supplies. Vacationers are also encouraged to buy from the local shops. That seems helpful. On the other hand, could the money just be donated aside from vacationing?
- How much time? Some argue the port should not be reopened until the country is out of rescue mode and into recovery. But the question here is: What about those in other parts of the country who are still trying to run their businesses to keep Haiti afloat? Is Labadee and the money it provides crucial to holding the country together? If the ship doesn’t go to Labadee it will go elsewhere. Is it better to just go to Labadee?
- Does the size of the disaster matter? Haiti has been devastated. No question. But what about other parts of the world? People are hungry, thirsty, sick, and without shelter everyday. Yet, we vacation as normal. Where’s the line?
The issue is more in depth than is possible to cover. There is no easy answer to any of these questions. I’ve read several stories where people have decided to go on the cruise. They said when the boat stops in Labadee they’ll just get off and spend some money and get back on the ship. I’m not sure what I would do.
Is it right to vacation in Haiti right now? Does it help more than hurt?
What are your thoughts? Would you go? Should Royal Caribbean still be offering trips to Labadee? Are there other questions to think about? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
I thought I’d post some takeaways from Nikki’s post. Some things I learned or thought about while reading:
- What is Passion? – She shared she had a passion for humanitarian work, specifically for working with children. I think her life reflects that. Though I began to wonder if I really am passionate about the things I think I am. For example, my wife and I are reorganizing our finances because we want to live better. We’re sacrificing right now so we can live better later. That indicates I’m passionate about living a financially sound life. I’m willing to sacrifice. The question I have to ask myself is: Would I put the same effort into raising money or awareness for other things I claim to be passionate about (such as children living in hunger/poverty?) I don’t think it’s bad to live well because I’m making sound financial choices, but I wonder if I would make those same choices if I received none of the benefit.
- Out of the Comfort Zone – Nikki said she couldn’t get the kids out of her head when she came back to the states. Her world had been rocked with what she had witnessed on her trip. There’s something to be said for getting out of your comfort zone. Our priorities/thoughts/actions/motivations tend to change when our eyes are opened to stuff we’re not used to seeing. This makes me even more ready to take a trip overseas sometime soon to help with relief.
- Small Sacrifices – I’m glad she mentioned making small sacrifices like forgoing one meal out a week to give toward some project you care about. Like I said, I want to go overseas. I want to help people, but life can be constraining and so until I go I can begin to make small sacrifices. Even if it helps one child, it’s beyond worth it to that child. No amount of compassion is insignificant. No gift or sacrifice is too small. We can all begin to take baby steps in the direction of Becoming Last.
- Be a Freak – Some people aren’t going to understand why you do what you do. Friends may not understand why you’d rather not eat out or see the latest movie. Family may not want you to take a trip overseas. But I would encourage you, if you are called, go. Specifically, as a Christian, God calls us to be his hands and feet by loving/sacrificing/serving people. Are we heeding that call?
Well, I hope her post was encouraging and inspiring to you. I enjoy hearing about people’s experiences and their perspective on Becoming Last. I’m not sure what’s ahead for the week. I bought a book last night I hope to recommend to you after I finish it. It’s got potential. Until then…
How can you Become Last today?