Moving on from my blog about trying to stay warm during winter, today I wish to talk about access to clean, drinking water. I want to highlight some of the striking differences between our experience of winter in the UK and that of many families in Eastern Europe. Feel free to share this challenge with your friends…
Bob Northey, Communications Officer, TEN
It may surprise you to learn that 16 million people in Europe still have no direct access to clean drinking water and 3 million rely on surface water for direct consumption – according to the World Health Organisation. Water pipes are being slowly installed to bring tap water to homes in more remote areas, but far too many families have to visit wells or use communal hand pumps – even in the depths of a freezing winter!
Without water, we cannot survive and yet far too many people have to go to extraordinary lengths to carry water back to their homes, for drinking, washing and sanitation. There are small, volunteer-run projects aimed at bringing water supplies into the homes of the poor, but this literally is a drop in the ocean.
When I turn on my shiny tap today to fill a glass to the brim with clean water, I will remember those who are unable to enjoy this perceived luxury. As I look into the clear water, I will reflect on the needs of the poor and thirsty, especially during these cold days and nights. Donations made to WinterHelp have already made a huge difference to families you are unlikely to ever meet.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Thousands of families in Eastern Europe have no piped water supply into their homes and rely on using stored rainwater or drawing water from local wells. Some families travel beyond their villages by borrowing a horse and cart twice a week to draw water to meet their needs. The lack of direct water has a huge impact on drinking water, as well as washing, hygiene and food preparation.
Keynsham Elim Church, near Bristol became aware of the problems through its growing relationship with Romanian charity, Casa Grace in Oradea. Following some research and discussion with Casa Grace, a plan was put in place to bring piped water into the homes of very poor families. This involved the installation of pumps in wells, digging trenches for piping and soakaways, and then plumbing in kitchen sinks and electric water heaters. The team of church volunteers raised funds to purchase all the equipment and travel from the UK to Romania to carry out installation over 4 – 5 days. The team has made several repeat trips and transformed the everyday lives of local families.