By Kari Costanza, World Vision global editor. Edited by Shawna Templeton, World Vision U.S.
Fourteen-year old Som and other children take turns in a campaign boat to call on their community to keep the Khlong Prem canal clean.
“We will clean the canal together,” says Som as she speaks into the microphone. “Don’t throw garbage in the water. Will you join us?”
Their boat is followed by a garbage boat that picks up the watery trash in the canal, where hundreds of homes are raised up on stilts above the water. The water is ghastly black from oil and littered with plastic containers and garbage-filled bags. And it smells of human waste that is dumped from a nearby hotel, directly into the canal. It also reeks of polluted water discharged from a factory.
Water pollution makes children sick in this community and in other places around the world. More than 3.5 million people die from water-related disease each year.
World Vision is investing $1.5 billion into child health programming around the world as part of Child Health Now — a campaign to end preventable child deaths. In an effort to bring clean water to this community in Bangkok, World Vision is providing some families with charcoal-filtered catchment systems for disposal of dirty water.
In addition to funding child health programs, World Vision trains young people to be advocates in their own communities.
Som strongly believes that children hold the key to solving the problems that face her community. She attended a World Vision youth camp and says that her training with World Vision is crucial to her mission of getting the canal cleaned.
“My daughter is no longer shy,” says Som’s mother. “I am very proud that my daughter has been trained to become a future leader.”
Som dreams of becoming a judge or lawyer when she grows up. With her parents’ support and the strong presence of World Vision in her community, her dream is well on its way to becoming reality.