I blogged about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development about a month ago. These 17 goals were officially adopted by world leaders at the UN Sustainable Development Summit at the end of September in New York, NY.
The aim of these goals is to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change. It may sound lofty, but a commitment to these goals will bring much change to the world in our lifetime.
As I noted last month, people need to know about these goals if we are going to achieve them. And we need to talk about them.
When I was asked which of the 17 goals was most compelling for me, I immediately thought of goal #6, clean water and sanitation. This goal is near and dear to my heart because I was able to see firsthand what it is like to live in an area of the world that does not have access to clean water and adequate sanitation.
When I went to Nicaragua last year with WaterAid America, I slept in a cot under a mosquito net in Linda’s home. I watched as she constructed casings for a well at a neighbor’s house, a skill she learned in a WaterAid training program for women. When she was done, she cooked for me, my travel companions, her family and a few of the neighbor’s kids. We ate with headlamps on because once the sun set, it was pitch dark. We listened to the sound of a transistor radio at night, the only link to the outside world. The toilet we used was behind the house and had rickety stairs that were difficult to navigate in the dark, particularly when you had to dodge pigs at the same time. In the morning, Linda was up before us all fetching water from the well by her house so she could wash the floors and make breakfast before we awoke.
Linda was lucky because her access to water was a short walk away. Many women and girls in those remote parts of Nicaragua still had to walk miles back and forth to the river in order to fetch water or wash clothes. Of course, this water was not clean and so it often caused sickness and disease. Kids, mostly girls, missed school because they had to help around the house because it took so much time to reach the dirty sources of water. Sometimes they missed school because they just weren’t healthy.
While the men were usually off working in the city, the women had to take care of everything else. Training with WaterAid helped Linda learn valuable skills that not only earned her money to buy things like shoes or books for her children, but also provided her village with much needed access to wells and someone who could expertly maintain the wells once they were built.
My time in Nicaragua was humbling and life-changing. It showed me just how lucky we are to have something as simple as clean, running water in our house. One of my favorite moments was when Linda took me and my travel companions across the river in her dugout canoe to pick vegetables from her family’s crops. There was a light breeze on an otherwise scorching day. It was quiet except for the sound of swishing grass and lapping water. The river water was dirty, but everything around me was so pure.
It saddens me that we have not made a commitment to providing something so simple and so essential to life to everyone on this planet.
What global goal is most important to you?
Let’s keep the conversation about the global goals going. Here’s a great parent guide that you can download to help get our youngest (and their teachers) involved.
Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.