“Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”
Remember that one day when you got up and there was no water? Maybe your pipes had frozen, or construction crews had accidentally hit a water main in your neighborhood.
Remember how inconvenienced and annoyed you were for those few hours, or maybe a whole day or two, when you had to find an alternative source to brush your teeth, take a shower, use the toilet, take a drink, etc.? When clean water is the automatic result of a twist of the tap, it is hard to remember that this is just not the case for far too many people around the world today. Have you ever really stopped to consider what it would be like to not have access to clean water?
Imagine that it was you and your family who, after waking up this morning, had to send your daughters off, not to school, but to fetch water knowing that the water they would bring home would be contaminated. Imagine taking a drink and not being sure if it was going to kill you this time. Imagine giving dirty water that you know could kill to your children or your elderly parents, because you simply had no other choice. Water borne disease is one of the world’s leading killers. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.
In the Central African Republic people (mostly women and girls) spend a good part of their day just getting water, hauling water, and in other ways managing water for themselves and their families. For the majority of Central Africans this water comes from streams, shallow hand-dug wells, and other sources of contaminated water, which means that drinking it is a lot like playing Russian roulette. And making matters even more complicated, after years of political violence and war, in the Central African Republic the small amount of water infrastructure that was in place is somewhere between disrepair and non-existent.
But I am happy to report that because of you and your generosity, hundreds of thousands of people in the Central African Republic have access to clean water. Because of you and your generosity we have been able to drill 34 new wells bringing water to 17,000 people, and we have been able to keep the water flowing to ½ million people through our maintenance program. And you have done this despite great odds; like the fact that many people have never heard of the Central African Republic. Most organizations avoid this country. It is truly a forgotten place, chronically listed as one of the top three poorest countries on the planet. Overlooked. Ignored.
But wait…these are words that we’ve read somewhere before. In the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we read:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.
Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40 – The Message)
Every day, in the Central African Republic, where some of the world’s most overlooked and ignored people live, trucks pull into villages to ensure that clean water is being provided and that clean water keeps flowing. This happens because you care about the forgotten, the overlooked, and ignored as demonstrated by the generosity of your giving. For those of us at Water for Good, we consider it such a privilege to steward your gifts so that their maximum impact is felt by the “least of these.”
God’s blessings on you and your family during this Christmas season and into the New Year. Next time you turn on the tap, and clean water flows, say a prayer of thanks for what we’ve accomplished together this year, and think about the people in the Central African Republic preparing their holiday and year-end celebrations, with clean water at their disposal because of you. Then say a prayer for those we haven’t reached. Yet.
CEO, Water for Good
Richard Klopp grew up in the West African country of Mali with his sister and brother, where his parents served as Baptist missionaries. After working in ministry and community development in Quebec, Canada for 14 years, Rich helped actor Matt Damon launch a water-focused non-profit to help communities in the Sahara Desert (now called Water.org) and served as the CEO for two and a half years. He then took a role as the Associate director for the Lake Institute at the Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University. Rich joined Water for Good in 2011 as our chief operations officer, then accepted his current role as CEO in September of 2014. He has a PhD in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and a MA with Honours in Theology and Religious Sciences from Laval University in Québec City, Québec, Canada. Rich lives in Lyon, France with his wife Gina and their daughter Maddy. Their son Nick resides in Indiana.