Where there is water there is life, but sometimes it can mean death.

The sun shines. The water glistens in the bright light. The wind swirls around me, unsettling the hot sand beneath my feet. I walk to the sea and bob up and down through the ripples of the waves as the water surrounds me, engulfing me in its warmth. I am now at peace. For right now, at this moment, I am one with the water and the salt and the sand, and everything is okay. All my problems are washed away with the tide. It’s just me and the ocean. Just me and the beach.

At the Beach

For each of us, water is lifegiving, sustaining, renewing. Water surrounds us in our seas, lakes great and small, in ponds and wetlands, rivers and streams. We fish, swim, sail, splash, transport goods, generate power, irrigate our fields, wash the car, maintain the garden, do the laundry and other household chores, fill up a kettle, steam iron our clothes, put out fires, add ice to our drinks, cook, drink, wash, clean our teeth and flush the toilet … all with water.

Children playing in a water fountain

Water is around us every day – from an early morning shower, to a water fountain in the garden, to puddles on a rainy afternoon. And thank goodness, since it is key to our survival!


Taking water for granted

I am ashamed that I take for granted almost every day the luxury of turning the faucet on and grabbing a cold, refreshing glass of water whenever I’m thirsty. Having clean water isn’t something I’ve had to think about growing up in the UK.  I have always expected clean water to be provided so that I can live life and not be worried if I don’t have anything to drink. I take clean water for granted because it has always been there.

But, have you ever been thirsty? Really thirsty. Parched, cotton mouthed and painful to even swallow. Have you ever been in a situation where you had no water and didn’t know where to get some? Perhaps on a hike or other adventure that was longer or hotter than expected. Think about that moment of thirst. Then think about the moment when you finally got a sip – or even a whole glass of water. How refreshing was that water? How wonderful did it feel?

To a parched mouth, water is immensely satisfying. Indeed, there is nothing quite like water to quench a thirst.

The reality in India

Water is life. Where there is water there is life, but sometimes it can mean death. Because imagine if you turned the tap and nothing happened, or if the water you drank made you sick? Imagine that your only easy access to water was from a dirty irrigation ditch, pond or river. yet there are many people across the globe right now struggling for access to water. A huge number of the people living in rural India can’t enjoy a hot shower every day or use a well-running sanitation system because they don’t have safe water where they are.  

Hands scooping up contaminated water to drink

For an estimated 63.4 million living in rural India, dirty water is a reality. They don’t have to imagine it. It is life. Everyday. Not only that, but for many people, collecting this unclean water involves miles of walking each day, while carrying heavy jugs, then carefully selecting how to use their limited water supply.

In villages, women and children have to walk miles every day to get to dirty water for their families. They have no choice. It is heavy – the weight of a microwave – and they are balancing it on their heads or carrying it any way they can. All that effort for water that isn’t even safe to drink. They are still bringing home bad quality water.

Children collecting water

Water is life, but sometimes it can mean death.


My distress over an email

Tears fell this morning . . . I felt like crumbling down as the realisation of how much I take water for granted filtered down into my mind and heart. This was the result of reading an email I received from our partner in southern India, causing my heart to break as I burst into floods of angry tears.

I saw the horrific photograph first and then read the email, feeling the shame of a privileged person who has never had to risk her life to fetch water from a neighbouring river.

The email spoke of an incident of a certain teenage boy in southern India who would often ease his mother’s burden by collecting water for her from the neighbouring river. When he had reached his destination, under the baking hot sun, he decided to cool down by bathing in this polluted river water. He and his family had been banned by the village inhabitants from using the government installed pumps because of their Christian faith, so he had no alternative but to collect this contaminated river water. Seeing the boy in the river infuriated an unidentified mob who set upon him and killed him by drowning him.

Not an isolated case

Tragically, this is no isolated case. Scenes like this are often reported by our partners, yet left unreported locally or nationally. This family has lost their only son. All it would have taken to have prevented this incident was for a water pump to have been available in the safety of their own village. Just £800, the price of a pump, could have saved this boy’s life.

At a typical water pump

The email went on to describe the situation in a different village. Nearby there is a Factory which produces paper. Chemicals from the production process is released into the river which runs close to the village, and from which people have been collecting water. Four families are in a critical condition in hospital as they have been drinking this contaminated, poisonous water.

Our partner tells us that,

“These villages are in a very critical position and we ask you to consider and please have a heart to help us in this. It costs £800 for a borewell. I request you to please see if you can at least help two borewells and save these villages as I cannot bear to see their situation. We are trying our best by sending water filter cans and this is becoming very expensive. The only thing we can do to save these entire villages is by drilling a borewell. We ask you to please have a soft corner in your hearts and please do help the needful.”


If I was brave enough to share the horrific photograph I was sent, I would want the world to reel at the image and mourn at the loss of life and the loss of humanity that caused it.

Water is life. Where there is water there is life, but sometimes it can mean death.


I pray for this nightmare to end for these people.