What I'm Doing Instead of the Ice Bucket Challenge - Building Access to Water for Women of the Sahel

If you're doing or thinking of doing the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, or if you've already done it. I appreciate your enthusiastic support of efforts to end that terrible disease. I have been asked a number of times why I haven't done the ice bucket challenge.

This is why. I had the life-changing experience (thank you Catherine, Eva) of seeing the beautiful Sahel - the lower Sahara where people, women often with children, must walk MILES to get water. Water that we get to take for granted many times a day. One day I was awoken by a beautiful sweet singing outside my window. In my sleepy-headed state, I scrambled to find my camera and run to the window. Through the roll down screen I saw a woman walking by. She was singing to herself as she stopped to take her load off her head and re-balance it, then place it back her head and continued on her way.

sangha commuter adjusting load

I wanted to see where she was going, I didn't recall a well near the hotel when we'd checked in.

off to work

I threw on something and went outside to see where the path she was following was headed. I saw her and other women, all following the same trail, as far as the eye could see. The Sahel is flat. I could see pretty far at that point. Then it hit me: this was her morning commute. Early to beat the blazing sun. Women walked. And walked. Many with babies on their backs.

bandiagara commuters

dawn_sanghaIt was only later when our driver took us passed suddenly lush green fields - I realized this was where they were WALKING to - to tend the fields of green onions. An unlikely oasis of green, miles from their simple mud huts.

oasis well (1)

Other women I saw as we hiked to our cliff and La Falaise hike, were walking miles to a well. This was two years ago, not a tap in sight.

baobob dusk

When I returned to Boston, I could not bear to see a faucet run or even an ice cube wasted. I always thought how long and hard women worked for every drop in Mali.

Bandiagara well

Cow well

Cow well (1)

Please watch this heartwarming clip and donate what you can, where you wish. ALS is a horrendous disease and we're contributing to that cause, too. So very many could use that water we're tossing about to make a point. Could we donate without wasting water? Or donate as well to help those who have not a drop to spare?

September Campaign 2014 Trailer: The Sahel from charity: water on Vimeo.

 

Right now a donor is matching every dollar up to $1,000,000.

Do what you can.