Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Considering Poverty and Clean Water

Today is Blog Action Day, a day when thousands of bloggers “get together” by blogging about a single subject, hopefully raising awareness and initiating action. Last year the Tiny Bungalow participated by blogging about the environment. This year’s topic is poverty. As part of Blog Action Day, I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight an organization that is working to help impoverished children.

Several years ago, we had the great fortune to be able to travel to China for the adoption of our daughter. It seems almost a cliché when visiting places halfway around the world that people say, “don’t drink the water”. Living in the Great Lakes Region, it is easy to take water for granted. This is probably why it becomes a sort of fixation while traveling. In China, after much research, we decided to heed this warning. We didn’t go the extent that some people did of wearing a bag over our heads while bathing but we took precautions when we ate out as well as preparing food in the hotel room.

While in China, we did a lot of sightseeing, taking in all of the typical tours of the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and so on. We were with a particularly adventurous group so our tours also took us somewhat off the beaten path seeing beautiful Mount Lushan and the unique experience of walking around a traditional rural village.
The reason for our trip gives some clue about the economic conditions of some parts of the country. Walking around the farming village, those conditions were magnified tenfold. Much of what I saw, quaint buildings in various stages of disrepair and tightly packed homes between which chickens roamed freely, was shocking to me.
I am sure that on some level, I held a prejudice because I am a westerner and though not rich, am used to a more opulent style of life but there was something more. Being an architect, I couldn’t help but take notice of the infrastructure of this small conglomerate of homes. Wastewater flowed in narrow ditches between the homes and water for the village came from a single well and pump that was shared by many families.

If the water in our nice hotel room wasn’t “safe”, then what was the quality of the stuff being pumped from this well? If these are the conditions that the average person from China exists in, then what is it like for those that are on the lowest level of the economic ladder? What are conditions like for the typical orphaned child or to a greater extent, anyone cared for under the Chinese social welfare system?
I am still not positive of the answers to these questions but after some research and from what I saw, it didn’t seem promising. It seems that this basic life necessity should be available to all people, no matter where they are or what economic background they come from. For the people that concerned me the most, those tiniest members of society that seem to have fallen through the cracks, something must be done.

Several years ago, we learned of a non-profit organization called “A Child’s Right”. The organization believes that clean drinking water is the right of every child. They work to provide this essential part of life to children around the world. I could go on and on about the merits of this organization but it is probably better for you to learn more on your own. Please visit their website by clicking the link above and if you feel so compelled, help them to achieve their goals with a donation.

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