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A Seaside Thirst.
Here it was, just as breathtaking as ever, Sarah thought as she got down from the car. She walked slowly, taking off her slippers as if stepping on sacred ground. This was her paradise on earth, the place she retreated to in her thoughts when sleep avoided her.
"Look at the waves!" shrieked one of the many kids who were there with their parents along with Sarah's family. " I am going in!" yelled the kid's sister running towards the ocean whose waves were like a carpet being rolled out then rolled back in. Sarah remembered all the times she had spent here swimming in the salty water and collecting seashells, year after year.
When she was here two years ago, she stumbled across some rocks all around an area forming a pool with gentle waves just like a jacuzzi in which she had spent many happy hours. I will just dip my feet, that should keep my clothes from getting wet she thought, and walked towards the shore, holding her clothes high up and away from the reach of the water with one hand. The waves felt just like they always did, soothing and welcoming, massaging her feet as they came, taking away the tension as they retreated.
But her peaceful moment was very soon interrupted when she spied one of the toddlers slipping and falling right into the water. She ran and pulled with boy with both hands, checked to see if he was okay, then carried him to his mother who was too busy having fun to notice the danger her son was in. "You really should hold his hand, the water is too deep for him" Sarah said in a serious tone to the older woman who look taken aback by the sight of her son completely drenched and coughing out salty water .
"Well, now my clothes are half-wet" Sarah mumbled, wringing them out,letting the drops fall back to where they came from. It was time to re-enter her happy place, slowly she began to walk leisurely,allowing the wind to stroke her face and hair.
But no sooner had she relaxed again when she saw the brother of the kid who almost drowned in the same situation. "God! This is too much!" She screamed and ran after this poor kid who didn't know what had hit him and was wide-eyed with surprise. "This one almost drowned too, the waves hit him and there he was under the water" she told his mother. "Please don't let go of any of them, it's too dangerous" Sarah pleaded, hoping the woman would take her seriously now.
The breeze made her feel better once more,. This time, she closed her eyes, taking in the sounds of the seagulls. Hearing a frail voice behind her, she broke out of the trance and turned. Behind her stood an old woman, walking slowly, a stick in one hand, and a bundle of clothes slung over her shoulder.
"Yes?" Sarah asked, moving in closer to hear what the woman was saying since her voice was low and barely audible. "Water, do you have water?" was all the old woman could manage, taking out a bowl from the bundle and pointing inside it. The hand that held the bowl was shaking. That's when Sarah also noticed that the woman was partially blind, the lens of her eyes clouded with cataract. "Oh, wait, I will get some" Sarah replied, running towards the car. There must be a water bottle somewhere, she thought as she searched every part. Finding nothing, she walked towards the locals who were still under the shade of the trees.
"Do you have some water, that woman over there is thirsty" Sarah asked, pointing towards the tired figure, who looked so lost. "No, but there is some just across the road" one woman replied. Sarah walked towards the old woman, sad because she didn't know what to do, she couldn't leave without telling her family, they would be so worried.
Just then a boy was walking toward the place the locals had pointed out. "Hey, please I need you to do something" She called out. The boy stopped and Sarah took out some money. "Here, take this money, and get something for this woman to eat and drink, careful she can't see well, okay? Thanks" Sarah said, all in one sentence whilst handing the money to the boy who had nodded in turn. "Please go with him, he will give you water" Sarah said, turning to the old woman who also nodded in relief.
As she watched them walk away, the boy with the woman's hand in his, Sarah realized the irony of the situation. Here was a vast ocean of water, tons of it. Yet someone walking along its shore was thirsty. Someone who was obviously very poor, but very likely homeless as well.
With these sad thoughts haunting the rest of her walk, and many of her waking hours, She finally understood that this world was full of situations which made humans helpless. Each of us thirsts for something whilst an ocean we cannot drink from lies a few steps away from us.
Learn more about providing water to the poor here:
- Clean Water for the World
Clean Water For The World is a 501c(3) organization whose mission is providing simple, adaptable water purification systems to communities without access to clean drinking water, at no charge.
- UNICEF - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene - UNICEF Water and Sanitation