Water is central to the imagery and reality of our religion.
From the earliest days of Christianity, water has cleansed both body and soul. Just as Jesus was baptized, we christen our infants with water, washing away the stains of original sin.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr., called on powerful imagery from the prophets when he said, “Yes, I have a dream this afternoon that one day in this land the words of Amos will become real and justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’’
Water is an important part of our work. Catholic Relief Services provides water to people in need by drilling wells and ensuring water is pure. We pipe it, maintain pumps and form local water committees that empower communities. The list goes on. I have seen the transformative effects our work has had on people who once walked miles to fetch clean water.
Because of you, the Church in Ethiopia now owns three rigs that travel the country drilling wells and transforming lives.
You give people water—and so much more. Without long walks to get water, children have the freedom to go to school, women can start businesses and communities can thrive.
Your donations give people pumps that extract water from rivers and irrigate their fields so they can grow crops to feed their families. Thanks to you, they even have enough to sell at markets.
CRS understands that water brings life—and takes it, too. So we respond to emergencies brought on by hurricanes and flooding, most recently in the Philippines. We devise structures that withstand the power of wind, rain and erosion control. A few rocks, set into a strategically placed dam—by villagers paid by CRS—alter the path of an otherwise damaging flood and save precious topsoil on surrounding fields.
In East Africa, we’ve discovered a low-tech way to bring water to communities: Build a sand dam across a dry stream that, with rain, eventually raises the streambed. Communities now use pumps or shovels to access water that was previously too deep to reach.
Pastoralists, who once traveled long distances to feed their flocks, now stay near these dams because the higher water levels help fodder grow. That means a school can be built while their cattle and goats graze nearby.
That school is just like a well: It’s living water for the mind. So much of our work allows us to deliver water that feeds the body, mind and soul.
Because of you, this water flows in so many forms—from health clinics to new schools, from better seeds to improved sanitation—tumbling down in the mighty stream that the prophet Amos imagined.
I close, as I always do, with a salutation that pays homage to the sanctity of water.
May blessings overflow,
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President & CEO
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