Have you ever been so thirsty that all you could think about was quenching that thirst with anything-water, juice, pop, sports drink-anything wet!! Have you ever been so dehydrated and thirsty that your ears feel plugged (ok maybe this is just me...) or you can barely muster up enough spit to swallow? Living in Liberia where the dry season temps are high and so is the humidity-being thirsty is an everyday occurrence. Running and training for a marathon in Liberia-thirst is ever present and if not quenched I can start feeling dizzy, my skin gets cold and my legs feel like jello. BUT I can stop at my house and get a cool drink of clean water-or a sports drink made with clean water-but that wasn't the case last Saturday morning as I ran to Karpie-a village about 6 miles outside of Foya...
I found myself 30 min. in feeling very thirsty-it could be that it was 7am and I had not had anything to drink when I first got up-or the fact that I had not been keeping track of my hydration during the past couple of days of being very busy. By the time Alisa and I reached Karpie (60 min. of hills!) I was so thirsty that my ears felt plugged and I couldn't hear clearly-weird...I was sweating profusely-more than I usually do which is a lot-and all I could think about was WATER.
I knew the truck with our guests was coming behind us so I turned around and started running back towards Foya in hopes of meeting them soon to get some water. I went down the first hill-at the bottom was a palm log bridge stretching over a murky, brown stream...I stopped-looked at the water-wishing so badly it was clear and drinkable! I crossed the bridge and continued running praying that the truck was coming soon with my H2O! At the bottom of a HUGE hill I stopped for two reasons: 1) I did not want to run up the hill and 2) there was a small bridge going over another stream-this stream was a little clearer...could I drink it? My mind wandered to thoughts of "what if I just had a little drink?" "It can't be that bad, it's clear!" I have no doubt that at this moment Patty Hutton and other WASH interns of mine that have received my lecture on NOT DRINKING any water that is not treated-are shaking their heads wondering how the queen of WASH could even consider taking a drink of the forbidden stream...that's how thirsty I was.
I stopped and started to think about people running away from rebels during the war-through this very jungle I was now running in...what did they do when they got thirsty? Or sick? This water that I knew would make me very ill was their only option...I knew that at any minute the SP land cruiser would waddle over the hill and my thirst would be quenched. But imagine if you lived in a village where quenching your thirst meant getting sick-or worse that the very water that relieved your thirst could kill you. I couldn't even imagine it-having no other option but to drink contaminated water-no other option.
Soon I heard the deep groan of the disel engine of the SP landcruiser-I made the motion with my hand even before they stopped that I need my water bottle. Out jumped Joni with a cold water bottle-I couldn't open it fast enough I tell you! I drank and drank it felt amazing...for the next two hours I was constantly drinking-drinking clean cool water-I had an option-most rural Liberians don't. I had an option and I still almost chose the wrong one...
Our WASH programs here at SP Liberia give rural Liberians an option. They don't have to drink dirty water-they can drink clean water from a hand pump or a filter. When they are thirsty from working out on their farm they can come home and drink clean water from a filter-or from their community handpump. Yes, our WASH programs give people that option. That is why I am running, to give people an option-an option that I have always had and thanks to last Saturday's run -am so thankful for.