We are all well aware of the importance of water. Water gives man life. It is an element that is absolutely essential for human existence. In fact, there is no life without water. Perhaps, we have never been through difficult situations in the place where we live, and water has never been scarce for us. However, there are people on our planet who are deprived of this precious element.
As Christians, we know that God used water in many cases, especially during the time of creation, when He created the heavens and the earth, showing this way that water was an essential element among His creatures, which would live within this beautiful world. Of course, the issue starts getting complicated when we raise the question whether water is available everywhere, and even if there is water somewhere, whether it is accessible to everyone.
Here in Africa, things are very different. Many times we witness scenes that are really shocking. In many regions we see people of all ages, from little children to young men and women, carrying heavy jerry cans of water on their heads for long distances, even for several kilometres, in order to wash themselves, cook, or use it for other domestic purposes. This phenomenon, which seems to be unbelievable to us since we have plenty of this good available and take advantage of its invaluable use, definitely raises questions such as: How is it possible for these people to waste their precious time in order to fetch water to their homes?
When I first visited a primary school, I saw the children forming a long queue and carrying water on their heads, going up and down the place where there was a river. Being puzzled, I asked the headmaster.He answered that there was no running, drinkable water in their school. When, out of curiosity, I wanted to see what kind of water the little children were carrying, I found out that it was so dirty that it would infect them and I wondered whether it would be better for them to live without it. The headmaster, as if he was reading my mind, gave me the answer: “This is all that we’ve got. That’s why we use it. We have no other choice.” Naturally, after this incident the Holy Metropolis of Kenya was interested in eradicating this phenomenon and providing a proper solution. Through a pipe we transported clean water from the mountain spring so that these children could drink and wash themselves with pure, clean, safe water, without germs or waterborne diseases. This way, their suffering ended once and for all. Now they can enjoy it and use it without fear.
During the 1970s, when I was first traveling to the neighboring country of Uganda, I was informed that on my trip I had to take one or two bottles of water with me. I asked whether that water was intended for drinking or for any other use and I was informed that I would need it for drinking and washing. But I thought to myself, “Is there possibly any place where I could not be given some water?!” Anyway, I carried a bottle with me, and from the very first moment I realized that I had to keep it throughout my stay there for drinking or brushing my teeth. That bottle, then, was my salvation, as it was on that trip that I really appreciated the value of water. Since then, it has always accompanied me on my tours in the remote and arid areas of Kenya.
Bishop Makarios of Kenya