Voices

Clean water lifts her burden, restoring her potential and dignity

Little girl carries bucket fill of water on her head.

From my very first trip with World Vision in 2015, it was clear that clean water is a key focus for our organization. My window into this extraordinary work was a visit to a water project funded by child sponsorship in Zambia, where I saw a borehole well that had transformed the community of Bulanda.

World Vision has been providing clean water for decades. In the 1980s, we started drilling projects in Ghana. By the 2000s, we were rapidly scaling up water work across Africa and other regions. Now, World Vision is the leading nongovernmental provider of clean water in the developing world — reaching one new person every 10 seconds and three more schools every day. It’s a miraculous impact, achieved through God’s power and the generosity of his people.

Why is clean water such a focus for us? Impressive numbers are not the reason.

For me, it all comes down to a child, like the 8-year-old girl you see in the photograph above — Ireen. When you look at her, what do you see?

I see Ireen bound by her circumstances. She’s a prisoner, yet she’s committed no crime. The bucket Ireen carries on her head is a burden that becomes increas­ingly hard to bear. The older she gets, the bigger and heavier it gets. And the weight of it crushes more than just her head and spine — it steadily crushes her hopes.

I can imagine her, during her daily walk, agonizing not just from the weight of the water, but from worrying that she’ll be late to class — and fearing that the water she carries might make her sick. Missing precious days of school directly impacts her dreams.

For every child like this girl, there are mil­lions more girls and women who have no choice but to undergo the pain of carrying water. Collectively they spend an estimated 200 mil­lion hours gathering water daily.

Women and children in developing countries walk an aver­age of 6 kilometers (over 3.7 miles) and haul an average of 40 pounds of water every day.

Such suffering and lost potential motivate us to combat the global water crisis in every way possible.—Edgar Sandoval Sr., president of World Vision U.S.

Girls watch their mothers walk daily for water and know this is part of their future too. With each heavy step, their dreams of a differ­ent life seem further and further away.

Such suffering and lost potential motivate us to combat the global water crisis in every way possible. She is why we won’t stop until every jerrycan full of dirty water on a girl’s head is replaced by the tools that empower her to unleash her dreams. We will keep working until the only weight she bears is a backpack as she happily walks to school.

We believe God created each person — and every girl — with a purpose in his kingdom. And we can have faith that he will multiply our efforts beyond what we can expect or imag­ine. Do you believe our Lord has the power to change the picture for this girl and every single child who lacks access to clean water? I do.

So does World Vision. With God’s power working through us, we’ve set an ambitious goal to reach by 2030: to set kids free to pursue their potential by helping to provide access to clean water, improve sanitation, and support hygiene behavior change in every community where we do development work. To enable every girl to trade a jerrycan for schoolbooks. To empower every mom to spend time caring for and enjoying her family and attending church. To help communities build environments where healthy children and families pursue their God-given purpose.

If the picture of thriving children motivates you, I pray you’ll join us in our efforts to deliver clean water access around the world.


Edgar Sandoval Sr. became president of World Vision U.S. on Oct. 1, 2018. Follow him at twitter.com/EdgarSandovalSr.

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