As I sit here surrounded by gifts to be wrapped, having completed my (undoubtedly excessive) Christmas food shop, my thoughts return to Malawi where myself, 2 colleagues and several customers had the privilege of visiting a few weeks ago.
I always knew it would be a tough trip emotionally, but I don’t think I was completely prepared for just how little these people have.
I came home with renewed passion for One Water and the projects we support, and also from a personal point of view to make sure that my children and I remember and appreciate just how fortunate we are.
I sent them off to school this morning with full tummies, a fresh lunch and warm, clean clothes to wear. Now as I sit down to wrap their Christmas presents (of which they have too many – a determination to reduce I break every year) I think about the many children I encountered whilst in Malawi.
The children we met were clothed in what could, without exaggeration, generally be classed as rags, many of them barefoot. We had all taken small gifts of bubbles, stickers and balloons to hand out to the children, and the frenzy of excitement generated when these gifts were brought out was shocking. They were literally clambering over one another in the hope of being able to secure a small balloon or toy for themselves.
This image will remain with me, and becomes more acute at this time of year where excess and indulgence is actively encouraged. I took the story home to my own children, kids fighting over a balloon…obviously they didn’t share my level of shock but I hope that somewhere in their subconscious that message will resonate with them, especially on the morning of December 25th.
We at One fund projects that bring safe, clean drinking water to many communities – however, I now realise it is so much more than just needing water to drink/cook/wash.
Access to safe water improves entire lives. Giving communities the ability to irrigate and therefore grow crops to feed themselves and their families. Water pumps in the communities allow young girls to attend school rather than spending time collecting water which therefore means they are educated and able to find employment. The pumps also keep women safe from assault when collecting water from remote areas. The projects we fund have enabled communities to raise themselves out of the poverty that is still a reality for so many others in Malawi and across Africa.
So, without wanting to turn into the Grinch, I will be gently reminding my children to be grateful that they have all that they have – and on Christmas morning, to spare a thought for those children whose smiling faces from receiving a balloon fill my photo album.