Through Water, Dignity
On March 22, Salesian Missions joined the international community in recognizing World Water Day
— an annual event highlighting the increasingly critical challenges surrounding the availability of safe, clean water. With an estimated 2.1 billion people now lacking access to this essential resource, we must take bold new steps toward solving these challenges or face catastrophic consequences.
In his 2015 Encyclical on the Environment, Laudato Si, Pope Francis reminds us that “access to safe, drinkable water is a basic and universal human right … and a condition for the exercise of other human rights.” Those who lack drinking water, says the Pope, “are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.”
This is why our Salesian missionaries continue to prioritize water projects in every community in every country in which they serve. In fact, since establishing a dedicated Clean Water Initiative in 2014, the Salesian Missions office in New Rochelle, New York — together with many loyal and generous donors — has helped build wells, install water systems, construct bathroom and sanitation facilities, develop rural watersheds and more, in dozens of underserved areas around the world.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, Salesian missionaries have installed a water tower and hydraulic pump system to collect and distribute water to more than 900 children, and their families, who participate in programs at the Salesian Center of St. Charles Lwanga in Makelekele. And in Rwanda, a new well, collection tank and pump delivers clean water to the Don Bosco Oratory in the southwest village of Kabgayi — a project that has “vastly improved sanitation on campus, as well as the students’ personal hygiene,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions.
These are only two recent examples of how the Clean Water Initiative improves daily life for children and families who have experienced the negative impacts of not having a local, reliable source for water. Still, much work remains to be done.
“Water is essential for life,” Fr. Mark says. “Yet, every day, pressure on existing resources continues to build. By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated two billion people — which, according to the United Nations, means that demand for water will be 30 percent higher than it is today.
“Experts predict that as supply diminishes and demand explodes, mass migration events will become common,” he says. “It’s absolutely critical, therefore, that we create sustainable models for delivering clean water to those who need it. Otherwise, more and more of the world’s population will fall victim to poverty, poor health, food insecurity and worse.”
“Caring about the world’s water is a way to care about all people, especially children,” adds Fr. Mark. “We are so very grateful for our donors who support our water efforts and understand how this work is vital to help children in need.”
Our mission treats water as a basic human right and brings this critical resource to people who need it most. What’s your mission?