A Lesson on Water from The Jungle Book – Blog Action Day 2010

By Cheryl Mahoney

This year’s topic for Change.org’s Blog Action Day is water.  How often do we think about water?  And yet, how often does it touch our lives?  Maybe we don’t think about it because it’s so ubiquitous.  And because, for most of us who are likely to be online reading this, it seems so easily accessible.

But that isn’t true for a lot of the world.

I had a brief experience of my own recently that brought home how dependent we are on those ready-to-hand faucets.  The water in my apartment building had to be shut off unexpectedly for an hour or two one evening.  And I found myself confronted by all the things I needed water for.

It was time to cook dinner–but I didn’t have any water.  Pasta was out.  So was rice.  Vegetables–oh wait, can’t rinse them.  Can’t clean a pot if I do find something to cook, or rinse off my plate after I eat.  I could put the plate in the dishwasher, but I can’t run it.

It was a hot night–but a shower was out.  So was using the bathroom for any other purpose!

I couldn’t pour a glass of water to drink.  And if this had gone on long enough, I would have eventually encountered other problems–I couldn’t water my plant, couldn’t clean a counter, couldn’t do laundry or wash my hands.

Of course, I managed.  I have a freezer, so I could heat up frozen food that didn’t need any water.  I have a fridge, so I could drink a glass of juice.  And I have air conditioning, so my apartment was cool.  And because the water came on again after only an hour or two, no problem became all that big.

But a lot of the world doesn’t have those solutions.  And they don’t have easily accessible, clean water.

One billion people lack access to clean water.

From what I’ve read, the problem isn’t exactly that people don’t have water.  Everyone seems to find SOME way to get water.  But the problem is the diseases that result from lack of clean water, and the difficulties and hardships that have to be endured to fetch water.

Not to ruin any childhood memories, but do you remember that scene near the end of the Jungle Book cartoon?  (Disclaimer: I’m a big Disney fan, so don’t take this observation to be a sign of hostility against the Mouse!)  Mowgli sees the native girl for the first time, and what is she doing?  She’s fetching water.  And she’s singing about how she “must go to fetch the water, until the day that I am grown.”  A few lines later, she sings that someday she’ll have a daughter “and I’ll send her to fetch the water.”

That’s it in a nutshell, glossed over by Disney positivity.  To put a real world perspective on it…because the native girl is fetching water, she’s not going to school.  She’s not working, either in her home or in some position to earn money.  She’s spending her time fetching water.  She’s going out into the jungle, probably carrying a container that is too heavy to be healthy, and if Mowgli is the most dangerous thing she encounters, she’ll be doing better than many girls.  If nothing changes, her daughter will go on to repeat the cycle.

Here are some ways to take action, and share clean water with people who need it–so maybe Mowgli’s daughter can spend her time doing something better than fetching water.

Give $120 to give a family a water handpump

Give $25 to give one person clean water

Support community water committees in Central America

Give $140 to provide 300 families in Pakistan with water

Give $20 to give a classroom water

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