Today is Lent Fast Day, a day to think about how we can help provide water for all. Giving water to the thirsty is a very practical and valued act of mercy, as CAFOD gap year volunteer Bea Findley explains.
In England and Wales, it’s hard to believe there is a shortage of water in the world.
The toilet will always flush and the tap will always work. We are told to save water, yet look out the window and see rain pour down. Whilst it may be difficult to understand coming from a British climate that water is precious, today on Lent Fast Day, I’m remembering why it’s so important to stand in solidarity with people around the world who are in need of water.
One of the corporal works of mercy is to ‘give drink to the thirsty’, and Pope Francis calls us to do just that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Last month I visited CAFOD partner CEAS in Peru, and saw just how precious water is in one particular community.
I was lucky enough to spend a day with a local family, joining in with their daily tasks. Their home was built close to a stream of water coming from Lake Parón, and they used the stream for everything: cooking, cleaning, washing, drinking, and watering their crops.
They rely solely on the water from the lake to sustain themselves. In fact, all the water sustaining this region is from Lake Parón – it’s an incredible natural resource high in the mountains. Streams and rivers flow down the mountains from the lake to all of the communities and families.
Lake Parón sits beneath glaciers. As they melt and the rain falls, the lake fills and sends water to the communities. But the local people are very alarmed and scared by the rate at which the glacier is melting. The climate is getting hotter all the time and, if the glacier totally melts, Lake Parón will dry up and the people will be left without water.
The saddest thing for me though is that it’s not their fault. They live very simply, only taking what they need. They have had absolutely no contribution to the pollution and climate change that threatens them in the future.
Donate to our Lent appeal today and the UK government will match what you give, £1 for £1.
During our time with CAFOD partner CEAS, we also visited a farmer called Nilo. He was very passionate and I was incredibly moved and inspired by him. When we arrived, he expressed how good it was to meet people with similar concerns about the world. He shared how CEAS is supporting the community, helping them to get organised, ensuring there’s fair water distribution, delivering training and helping to unite people. They’ve made sure things are fair.
“Water is life.”
Nilo speaks profoundly about our world. He says: “It’s all of humanity’s task to look after the Earth” and “water is life”. When I ask him what he’d like to say to young people in England and Wales, he says: “tell them don’t be selfish, consider future generations, there’s only one world”. I feel humbled and in awe of how thoughtful, honest and aware Nilo is. It strikes me how similar his message is to that of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ – to not be selfish and wasteful but to take responsibility for our common home.
My Friday gesture of mercy
This Lent Fast Day I’m sharing stories of how CAFOD partners around the world are supporting more people to have access to safe, clean water. I’m remembering people like Nilo in Peru and other people around the world affected by a lack of water. I’m going to remember the Pope’s call for us all to be instruments of God’s mercy, and I’m going to make a real effort to not be selfish, to cut back on how much water I use and waste. Constantly reminding myself that natural resources like water are precious commodities that must be shared more equally.
How much water have you used today? Pope Francis has promised to make a gesture of mercy every Friday. We have committed to do the same during Lent. We invite you to join us.