Two little girls are gathering water on the far side of the oversized puddle-of-a-pond on the outskirts of Denan town. They are dipping their containers in the brown water. The one struggles to put the head-strap around her forehead, a bottle hanging down her back at the end of the rope. The other girl, her older sister, assists her. Then she puts her own head-strap on.
We watch as they walk towards us, the littlest one with one flip-flop on her right foot having a difficult time getting up the slight embankment. Again, her sister helps her out. Local boys watch us as we watch the girls.
“How old is she?”
“She is 3 years old,” the response comes back through a Somali translation.
Right now, more than 11 million people are facing an extreme drought throughout southern and eastern Ethiopia , and Somalia . Battles have broken out in recent weeks over access to water holes. Cattle are dying. Children have resorted to drinking their own urine. Some have already perished in the relentless heat; lives lost in what is looking like yet “another” African famine.
Aid agencies on the ground are sounding the sirens, hoping to awaken the big donors to step in with monies to bring in food and water. They are saying it will likely be worse than the famine in 2000 in this part of the Horn of Africa.
What famine in 2000? Did we hear about it in the newspaper? On the evening news?
Soon we see cattle cresting the small rise behind the puddle-of-a-pond. They trample down the sand and into the water, gulping up water as soon as they enter. The girls turn towards home as the cattle enter one-by-one.
Do they cook with that water? Hopefully it comes to a boil. Hopefully they don’t drink the water.
“Do you think they drink the water,” drifts into the dry, Ogaden air, a depressing thought that none of us wants to answer. Too sad to think about.
Try to place your soul into the life of the girls. Where they are living right now is water-less. The photo was taken in early December. It has not rained one drop since then.
They have no water. NO WATER. From what I know, there is some water being trucked in. It is not enough. Temperatures are hitting above 100 degrees.
I know, “What can I do about it?” Is that what you’re thinking? If so, you’re in luck. I have an answer.
The Denan Project. Remember Dick, the filmmaker I introduced you to a few columns back? He’s the one who founded The Denan Project. I met him in and traveled to Denan with him. I assure you that he will see that each donation gets to the water project that he is working on for Denan. Simply earmark your donation as “Water Money.” You have my word.
That’s right, you can answer the question of “What can I do about it?” by going to your wallets and pocket books and getting out a dollar bill or two. Of course, 5s and 10s, or even 20s, would be better!!
Don’t think about it, simply go do it. You give money to your government every day and it gets wasted. But, I guarantee that every cent you send will go to the people of Denan.
Ok, here’s what you can do:
Donate online to The Denan Project, http://thedenanproject.com
Or, send the money in check form to: The Denan Project, P.O. Box 543 ,
Again, mark it as “Water Money” to ensure that your donation goes to bringing water to Denan.
Do you see it? The girls collecting water are happy. Instead of seeing them as dying of thirst, we see them drinking a refreshing, cool cup of water brought up from hundreds of feet below their feet. THANKS TO YOUR BIG HEART and small donation THE PEOPLE OF DENAN WILL HAVE WATER.
(written 26 February 2006)