KNOXVILLE, TN (July 14, 2015) — Mai is a Navajo woman with three children living in northwest New Mexico. Her only access to clean water is the woman she calls the “water lady,” Darlene, who drives a bright yellow water truck to deliver clean water to Mai’s community. But Darlene can only come once a month, so when she arrives Mai must fill every bucket, bowl, and container she can find.
Her story is just one illustration of the need for clean water in countries such as India, Honduras, Ethiopia, and here in the U.S. and Canada. CHIC participants are exploring those stories through Covenant World Relief’s Project Blue, a learning experience focused on clean water.
Participants divide into teams of five and carry five-gallon jerry cans to simulate the journeys women and girls have to make to obtain potable water throughout the world. Each team takes on the role of someone like Mai, traveling to various stations where they hear new aspects of Mai’s story and simulate her experience.
Students found the experience eye-opening. At one station they learn that a five-minute shower uses three times the water that fits in one jerry can. They also discover that one in ten people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, that 1.8 billion use water sources that are contaminated by human waste.
Each team carries their jerry can throughout the experience, keeping it “sanitary” by not letting it touch the ground. They developed creative solutions—taking turns, resting it on the top of their shoes or on their knees, hoisting it onto their shoulders, sharing the load as a team. Many teams relied on their stronger male students to carry the jerry can, even though most water is carried throughout the world by women. One student posted online simply, “Water is heavy.”
Downpours Tuesday morning sent Project Blue participants inside, prompting Alex Toren of Community Covenant Church in Shawnee, Kansas, to tweet, “Concerned about water in multiple ways this morning. Soaked to the bone. Loving God. Praying for clean water.”
Chrissy Palmerlee of Covenant World Relief, told students, “The people who really have to walk for their water have to walk when they are tired, don’t feel well, or the weather is awful. They don’t have an option for an air-conditioned alternative like we do today.” As students wrung out their dripping clothes, some participated in the story of Juana, who lives in Central California and has no running water in her home because the drought has dried up her groundwater and her well has run dry. The difference in the two settings was striking.
Four hundred students signed up to run a 5K race tomorrow morning to support Project Blue. The CHIC offering will go to Project Blue and Covenant World Relief’s clean water efforts around the world. Anyone wishing to join the students can give online at CovChurch.org/ProjectBlue.
Maegan Gorecki, of Anchor Covenant Church in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, wrote on the CHIC app, “Project Blue was a really big eye opener for me, but also very fun!”
And Terrie Elmore of Kingdom Builders Covenant Church in Decatur, Georgia, wrote, “Project BLUE… Raising awareness to the lack of access to sanitation facilities, inadequate water supply, and unsafe drinking water.”
Churches can host the Covenant World Relief Project Blue Walk for Water at home after CHIC. For more information, text “Walk” to 773-706-1375 or go to CovChurch.org/ProjectBlue.