How Does Water Affect Life?

Lessons from a Cultural Studies course at the Academy for G.O.D.

Last week, in Cultural Studies class, the high school students shared their personal "day-in-the-life” with John Nyago. He, in turn, shared a day in his life when he was 15 living in Uganda. The comparisons caused our students to sink in their chairs. Smiling, Nyago answered "No, I never had a room of my own, but I did get my own bed when I attended college." Nyago told the students that when he was 15 years old, he carried two jerry cans of water (weighing 40 lbs. each) one mile from the local borehole before school. To this day, Nyago is conscious of the water he uses and conserves water usage as he remembers those living in Uganda.

That class prompted this week's exercise.

“Did you guys do your research?” I asked my high school students.

“Yeah, I found it takes 2 ½ gallons of water per minute to take a shower,” said Gerron.

“Did you find out how much water an average American uses per day?

“About 100 gallons.”

“You think that is a reasonable amount?” I asked.

“Yeah,” the students responded in unison.

The conversation occurred as we walked to the soccer field where our “classroom” was set up. Ten 5-gallon buckets were sitting at one end of the soccer field and on the other end was a water hose and three 1-gallon milk jugs. The 5-gallon buckets represented water usage for one 10-minute shower, two 2½ minutes of brushing teeth with the water running, and five toilet flushes. That was it—no water for cooking, drinking, washing clothes or dishes. As the students filled the milk jugs with water from the hose and ran it to the empty buckets, they “felt” the weight of the water and their earlier conclusion that “using 100 gallons of water a day is not an unreasonable amount.”  They worked hard to collect only half of that amount!

As we walked back to the Academy we passed Moses Ssekabira, a native of Uganda who has been living in the U.S. for about two months. “How was the work?” he asked the boys. “So hard,” they answered, wiping the sweat from their foreheads. Moses began to get emotional, and shared his experience of daily collecting water with the students. “It could take me 3 hours a day to collect water. Sometimes when I got home from school and was ready to eat, I had to leave and get water so my mother could cook." 

The students learned something that I pray they don't forget. Moses is praying he never does. 

Luke 3:10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

Let’s not forget that sharing begins by not taking more than you need. Conserve water, not because it is “in” to be environmentally sensitive, but because the majority of the world does without.  We have the ability to deny ourselves and share.