Clean Water for Julia and Esperanza


By Andrea Sawtelle

Several years ago, I heard a radio DJ begin to talk about raising money for a clean water project in a third world country. Having just returned from Mozambique, Africa, where a good portion of our time was spent looking at clean water projects, I was immediately intrigued. The DJ proceeded to explain that for just a few dollars a month, you could bring clean water to a village in need. He then began to “put it into perspective” for his listeners. “Imagine this for a minute,” he said. “Imagine taking a cup of water, going outside, putting some dirt in the cup and mixing it around. Then imagine serving it to your child.” His co-worker began to contribute to the conversation, but their voices became faint as I found myself back in that remote village in Africa. All I could picture were the faces of Julia and Esperanza.

Julia and Esperanza were the names of the two little girls I found myself holding the hands of, as we embarked on a short, 1 mile hike to the very spot where their families had fetched dirty water over and over again. This water wasn’t just dirty, it was the host of life threatening bacteria and parasites that would place people at risk for disease and even at times death. It had been the only water available until World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine Funds were used to provide a water bore hole that would provide clean water for a community who was desperately in need.

My youth group and I had participated in the 30 Hour Famine for years, but it wasn’t until I found myself hand in hand with these two little girls that I realized the life long impact that one weekend could make in a person’s life. I thought about this as I found myself dancing and singing with little Esperanza, whose face lit up as she pointed to the new well that had been built, one that now gushed out endless supplies of clean water.

The well hadn’t just supplied clean water. It had supplied endless opportunities for 9 year olds like Julia and Esperanza, to do what 9 year olds do best…to be kids. They could now go to school, as their days wouldn’t be spent walking miles upon miles in search for a water supply. They could run, dance and sing, as their health was restored. They could dream about what they want to do and be, because future had now become part of their reality.

I’ve often wondered as I’ve spent countless hours planning and prepping for our own 30 Hour Famine events, “Is it worth it?” What if we only raise a few dollars? What if my teens complain all weekend? What is the point of going 30 hours without eating anyway? The truth is, we do it because of kids like Julia and Esperanza.

That day, as Esperanza pointed to the new water well and danced around me, singing at the top of her lungs, I couldn’t help but smile. A community that had spent far too many days struggling to survive were now empowered to do great things. Hope had come to that village as a result of a few teens who were willing to give up food for a weekend, and that hope would make a difference for generations to come.

Note from the Famine team: This coming weekend is the second 30 Hour Famine National Date, and hundreds of groups across the country are hosting their events. We want to make sure you know a couple things: First, we are praying for you (really – by name). And second, we are available to you if you need any help or have questions – just call 800.7FAMINE.