Khithie, Chali, Paite, Ma U and Lailente. These are the names of small villages in the Chin State of Myanmar made up of 400 to 600 people living in primitive wood huts – sharing life together.
The Chin people live along the Myanmar and India border, where both countries shirk the responsibility of providing reasonable infrastructure, education, electricity, roads and water.
The only entrance to these villages is a single lane dirt path, accessible by foot or small motorbike. The primary mode of transportation is, of course, walking since few have the resources to own a motorbike.
When speaking of travel expectations, the villagers measure travel in days as opposed to kilometers.
They operate under the assumption that if a visitor doesn’t arrive on the scheduled day, he or she will probably arrive tomorrow or perhaps the next day. Punctuality is merely showing up.
In most villages, the main source of energy is solar power. They have minimal communication with the “outside world.” Although cell phones have helped, service is spotty at best.
Most young adults focus on education whenever possible, recognizing they must leave their village to find work in cities or become migrants or refugees in foreign countries.
Generations ago, Baptist missionaries did a wonderful job sharing the gospel. Christianity is prevalent today; each village manages to support a church facility where they faithfully worship and support one another.
The Chin State of Myanmar is made up of hundreds of these remote villages – all dealing with developing world issues.
Without question, the resource of greatest need is water. There is simply no access to suitable drinking water.
Thankfully, Christian communities in Myanmar and India are reaching out to the Chin people, offering hope and healing through social ministries providing accessible clean water.
Around the world, access to clean water is a crisis with life-threatening consequences.
Water may be plentiful during the rainy season, but when summer approaches, the water supply becomes grossly insufficient.
Without clean water, skin disease, dysentery and diarrhea leave children and older adults vulnerable to severe illness and death.
Countless nonprofits seek to make a difference with world water scarcity. Some operate on a grand scale, while others work in partnership with individual villages.
One needs only to Google “world water issues” to learn more about the water crisis and to see the number of organizations invested in providing avenues for clean water.
These websites remind us more than 800 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea attributed to poor water and sanitation every day and more than 2.3 billion people are living without access to basic sanitation.
The United States alone consumes 322 billion gallons of water every day while one in nine people worldwide have no access to clean water.
It is worth noting we are talking about 800 children who die each day due to lack of access to a resource that we consume billions of gallons of each day.
What can we do to impact this crisis?
March 22 is World Water Day. Take a moment that day to research world water issues on your smart device.
Read the stories and statistics. Seek to understand how the lack of sufficient water causes unimaginable health issues in the year 2020.
Consume less water in your personal life. Encourage your church to partner with an organization that provides clean water in villages around the world.
Each of us can make a difference.
Pure Water Initiative Inc. is partnering with local church leaders in India, Myanmar and southeast Asia to develop water cisterns, wells and water filtration systems, ensuring remote villages have water year-round.
Typically, villagers must walk at least 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) roundtrip, carrying three to five gallons of water for their families.
More times than not, the women and children are responsible for carrying the water; this chore is often required both morning and evening.
When clean water becomes easily accessible, time is saved, overall health and wellness of villagers improve exponentially, and children have the opportunity to be better educated. Pure water offers hope and healing.
When asked what difference clean water makes for his small village in Myanmar, a village leader replied, “Clean water has taken our village from death to life.”
We have the capability to alleviate water scarcity issues around the world. We can offer hope to countless men, women and children, taking them from death to life.
Together, we can be a part of the solution.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series this week for World Water Day (March 22). The previous articles are:
When We Can No Longer Access Water Conveniently | Sam Harrell
Bill Ross is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Marietta, Georgia, and the Executive Director of Pure Water Initiative, Inc.