I have been in Ghana for almost 6 weeks now, three times longer than I have ever stayed before. All this time has given me the opportunity to have much more quiet and unstructured time than I can remember every having in the past! Things just move slower here, I think a product of both the persistent heat and humidity, and the fact that pretty much everything takes longer to accomplish. This revelation has led me to think about how lucky, how privileged I have been to have lived my entire life in a place where almost everything is readily available, and frequently affordable. I am not talking about luxuries here, I am talking about the essentials of life: housing, education, clothing, electricity, potable water. Here in Ghana, none of those “essentials” are guaranteed to the majority of the population. All those amazing children attending Lilies…the only guarantee they have right now is their education, thanks to the generosity of so many wonderful donors. Most of them live in homes that are one or two rooms, shared by at least 4-6 people, with no electricity or running water, no indoor plumbing. Their only “new” clothing and shoes are their uniforms provided by their sponsorship. They sleep on mats or pieces of fabric on cement or mud floors. Their meals are cooked over an open flame fire of wood or propane. This is their normal. The normal of the majority of the people in this country. It is the water that has struck me as the most difficult to manage and understand. Ghana is home to the largest manmade lake in this part of Africa, Lake Volta. The Ghana Water Company built a dam on the Volta River to make the lake, and still controls the use of the water, which services the entire country. Yet more days than not, there is not running water here. Sometimes it is shut off because there is too much demand. Sometimes it is shut off because they are servicing the antiquated and over-worked pipes and pumps. In the case of our apartment, we do not use the town water; we have a large underground cistern as our primary source of water, and a large outside water tank as a back up. But in the 53 days I have been here, we have had running water exactly 12 of those days. Why? First, the pump for the cistern broke, and after multiple repairs, gave up the ghost. Still no new pump. Then the water tank was empty. It took 4 days for someone to come and fill the tank, and then it only lasted 4 days. Initially, I was pretty crazy about this. How could all these people not be as concerned as I was about not having running water? I am not talking about potable water…I cannot drink it, or even brush my teeth with it. I am talking about water for bathing, flushing, dishes, cleaning. Still, I am one of the lucky ones, because we have already installed a water faucet at the building site for my house, so I made daily trips over there to fill my empty water junks from the water cooler (my drinking and cooking water). Then it is life out of bucket for all water tasks. As long as there is electricity, I can start the gas stove and boil some water to add to the bucket for a “hot” shower! Seriously, how many of you reading this have ever ever thought about not having access to water on a regular basis? I have learned that the lack of potable water is a significant factor in keeping people in poverty throughout the world. It is the reason for such horrible deaths from water-borne diseases. We cannot even pay attention to the water problems in our own country, in Flint, Michigan, so why would we be concerned all these other places in the world? So you see, I know I am privileged. I can go buy more jugs of water when I need pure water to drink or cook. I can go fill my empty containers as often as I need when the water is not running. And I have the luxury of taking preventative medicine and vaccines so I do not become a victim to any of those diseases. That is privilege. But with that privilege comes enormous responsibility, I believe. That is why we installed a water faucet at Lilies, on the OUTSIDE of the building, for the community to use as needed. When I am there, one of my favorite activities is to sit and watch the people come to use the water. The children are learning to wash their hands much more frequently, babies are able to be bathed, and dozens of people come and go with cooking pots and dishes. That water faucet really is the life line of the little Lilies community. Whatever it costs me each month to keep it flowing, I am willing to do. I must. So you see, this is what happens when life is slowed down and one has the time to reflect on what is really important and vital. Water, people. Stop taking it for granted. And appreciate the privilege of having it available to you pretty much whenever and where ever you need it. We are the truly lucky ones.