Lent Remixed - Week 1: Ethiopia

March 3, 2014

Last week, we told you about this year's Lent Remixed project: 7 weeks, 7 countries, 7 causes, 7 items fasted. If you missed it, here's the original post. This week, we chose to focus on Ethiopia to emphasize the need for clean drinking water.

According to UNICEF, 768 million people around the world do not have safe, clean water to drink. The human cost is simply staggering: Every day, thousands of children die from diseases directly linked to unsafe water or a lack of basic sanitation facilities.

Ethiopia is a country with a fascinating past -- for most of its history, it was a monarchy, and along with Rome, Persia, China and India, its kingdom was one of the great world powers of the 3rd century. In the 4th century, it was the first major empire in the world to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion. Notably, Ethiopia has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa, and the country’s ancient Ge’ez script (also known as Ethiopic) is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. (source)

But despite being the main source of the Nile, Ethiopia underwent a series of famines in the 1980s, further complicated by civil wars. The country has begun to recover recently, however, many of its residents still desperately lack access to clean drinking water: 

"In the last few decades, Ethiopia has faced fierce famine, drought, political instability and war. Peace has returned but the nation remains developmentally weak and more than 50 million Ethiopians don't have access to safe water. Most rural families survive on less than five liters of water per day and walk up to four hours to collect it from open sources." (Source) 

There are several organizations that have been making concerted efforts to combat the problem in Ethiopia and other countries throughout the world, including The Water Project, WaterAid, and charity:water, to name a few. But here's a project in Ethiopia that gets to the heart of why we help others. It's the way I want my family to live. (Oh, and fair warning: it's also a tear-jerker.)

So what can we do?

Pray. This week, I'm going to pray for the situation in Ethiopia and in other countries throughout the world experiencing life-or-death difficulties due to a lack of clean drinking water. I'm going to pray for the governments of these countries to not turn a blind eye to the problem. And I pray that our eyes and the eyes of our neighbors, friends, and community -- living in relative comfort, with no worry over our own drinking water -- would be opened to the need of those who aren't so lucky.

Fast. This week, I have a revolutionary idea for you. What if you gave up time spent on your smart phone in order to give water to a child in need? For every ten minutes you don’t touch your phone, UNICEF Tap Project donors and sponsors can fund one day of clean water for a child in need. Here's how it works:
  1. Visit uniceftapproject.org on your phone.
  2. Begin the challenge right away to see how long you can go without your smartphone.
  3. Donate to provide even more clean water to kids. Just $1 can provide 40 days of clean water.

Don't have a smart phone? No problem -- you can still give up something for Ethiopia. Why not give up your favorite beverage, such as coffee (Ethiopia is the source of the coffee bean), for the week?

Give. The idea of giving time on my phone is something I'd like to continue even after this week is over, but there are other things we can do to help forward the cause of clean drinking water throughout the year. Each of the organizations I listed above have wonderful programs to donate toward. I also love charity: water's "Birthday Project" idea, too (asking friends to pledge money to help those without cleaning drinking water on your big day) -- it's definitely one to file away for future use.

And just think -- all that time spent away from your phone can be better used anyway, right? Time spent with your spouse. Your children. Your friends. Cleaning out your closet, or rediscovering the joy of reading a book. Who knows? At the end of the week, you may find that you didn't even miss it.

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