Plumbing problems don’t just happen outside of North America, they happen everywhere, including right here
Please bear with me for a minute and read the following lines I swiped from a few articles I’ve read:
• Three infants die in neonatal intensive care unit from waterborne bacterial infection; five others sickened.
• After neighbors’ clash over public urination, 18-month-old killed.
• Poverty and poor sewage infrastructure have led to a surge in tropical diseases.
• Killing of two children exposes failure of improved sanitation plan.
• Doctors and researchers have evidence of parasitic infections like hookworm and Toxocara and conditions for mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika and West Nile.
• Over 40 million people lack access to an improved water source and more than 110 million of the country’s 240 million population has no access to improved sanitation.
• Some live on 10 gallons of water a day, the equivalent of two or three flushes of a toilet, when the national average is about 100 gallons a day.
I bet you’re thinking to yourself right now: Wow, that’s crazy! Those poor people over there! How come someone hasn’t done something about it?
And then what if I told you that only three of the seven are from “over there?” Now I ask you, does it matter which three happen over there, or is that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach enough to make you realize it doesn’t matter?
For some reason, we as a developed country tend to accept the fact that things like this, as bad as they are, are going to happen over there because that’s just how it is in “those parts” of the world. We mentally suppress it or, at a very minimum, we write it off as something we just can’t fathom anyone having to deal with. We look at our very own families and are so thankful they will never have to experience anything like this because they don’t live over there.
Every time I read an article like those mentioned above, it sickens me. I struggle with it. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
I don’t want to come off as if I seem more in touch or understanding of these issues than you are, because I’m not. But maybe it’s the work I’ve done on projects in India, South Africa, Indonesia and recently the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, where I’ve witnessed almost all of these items directly or indirectly.
It was on those projects based here in the U.S. that my www.iwsh.org team and I worked on that made the largest impact on me. It was here where I witnessed the Diné (that means “the people” in Navajo) living on 10 gallons of water a day, the equivalent of two or three flushes of a toilet, when the national average is about 100 gallons a day.
So, when I read that three infants died in a Pennsylvania NICU from waterborne bacterial infection and five others were sickened, I recognized that, yes, things like this can happen right here in the U.S.
The thought of over there quickly faded as I read another article that stated: Poverty and poor sewage infrastructure have led to a surge in tropical diseases and doctors and researchers have evidence of parasitic infections like hookworm and Toxocara and conditions for mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika and West Nile, written about what is known as Alabama’s Black Belt.
So, if you were wondering which ones on the list happened here, those are the four related directly to U.S. The other three did happen “over there.”
On Oct. 1, 2019, an 18-month-old was killed in India when his father tried to stop another young boy from urinating outside near this man’s home. The young boy’s family witnessed the man trying to stop the boy from urinating on his property and took offense to it. They approached the man and beat him and his young son who he was carrying at the time. Neither family had indoor plumbing.
On Sept. 25, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received an award in New York from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his government’s sanitation campaign called the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The same day, two children were beaten to death in Bhaukhedi village, about 280 miles from Delhi, over defecating in the open. These children lived in poverty, and their families didn’t have indoor plumbing.
And finally, the fact that over 40 million people lack access to an improved water source and more than 110 million of Indonesia’s 240 million population has no access to improved sanitation is almost incomprehensible.
As I’m finishing this column, I’m also preparing to visit two plumbing projects and start work on another. One project visit is over there in Indonesia where my www.iwsh.org team and I will be working on a public restroom for a village in Makassar, South Sulawesi. Another project is here in the U.S., where we’ll be visiting the Black Belt in Lowndes County, Alabama, to evaluate how we can help improve sanitation systems. The last project is also located here in the U.S. where the team will be working on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, installing a complete water and sanitation system for a community building. The bottom line is: It doesn’t matter if it’s over there or here. The plumber is vital to protecting the health of the nation, both near and far.
Keep doing the incredible job you do! Together we’ll make a difference both over there and here!