When we went to Ethiopia to adopt our son, Tariku we learned his story more fully. He had lived for four years or so with his birth father and step mother. They collected their water from a small dirty pond that was contaminated with God knows what. His family had no other choice. They needed water and that was the water they had to use. Tariku's little brother became very sick and had severe diarrhea from the water. At the age of one, he died. From dirty water.
When we brought Tariku home from Ethiopia in April he had severe stomach and blood parasites from the water...likely, the same parasites that ultimately took his brother's life. Of course, here in America he had clean water and access to medication that got rid of the parasites relatively fast. The same sort of simple care would have likely saved the life of his brother.
Parents all over the world today do not have a choice about the water they give their children to drink. Their kids must have water and if the only water that is available is contaminated, then that's the water they get. Tariku watched his brother be born and die in the same year all because there was no clean water available in his village. As a mother, as a sibling, as a human being...this angers me. Everyone should have the ability to drink clean water. Period. Have you ever taken the time to count how many outlets you have in your house for water? I counted mine today and I have 10 places I can go in my house at any time to get clean water. Ten. Most people in Africa can't even get to an unclean water source within a ten minute walk.
I'll never forget that about a month after we brought Tariku home from Ethiopia we took a weekend trip to Washington DC. We visited the World War II Memorial where there is a gigantic fountain. We walked down to the edge of the fountain and Tariku got on his knees and leaned over and cupped the water in his hand as if he was going to drink it. I told him not to drink it because it was dirty and that wasn't what it was for. In that moment I realized that water was much cleaner than any water he'd ever drank in Ethiopia. He looked up at me confused after I had told him not to drink the water. He said "For animals?" I said no. Then he said "To wash?" I said no. Then he said "What for then?". What for, indeed. Here we are in America, where we have the luxury of clean water being simply a decoration to look at.
If we can afford to have clean water as a decoration...if we can pay for it to water our lawns and fill our swimming pools, can we not afford to help a community like the one Tariku came from provide clean water for their families to drink?
Tariku is turning five in just a few days. In celebration of his birth, his story and his miraculous presence in our lives, our family is going to raise the money to build a water well for a village similar to the one Tariku grew up in. Isn't it cool that you and I can do that?!
All it takes is $5,000 to impact the lives of 50 families. That's 50 families who will be able to drink water without worrying it might kill them. What an incredible opportunity we have to make a life changing difference for an entire community.
Tariku's story is heartbreaking in many ways, but it is mostly a story of love and hope. The hope that one little boy can help make a difference for 50 families just like his birth family. That is a story I can't wait to watch play out. And thanks to charity:water you can be a part. We have three months to raise this money and it's going to happen. I feel it.
Click HERE to read more about how to get involved or to donate. Let's help Tariku tell his story so that 50 families can live to tell theirs. Thank you!