*According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend on average $816.69 on holiday-related shopping. In addition, these shoppers will spend an additional $106.67 on special “non-gift” purchases by taking advantage of special promotions and discounts to treat themselves.
* As a whole, Americans spend approximately 450 BILLION dollars on Christmas.
* It would cost 10 billion dollars to give the whole world clean water.
*According to Water Aid, 1.8 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This amounts to around 5000 deaths a day.
* According to charitywater.org:
- One in six people on the planet do not have access to safe, clean drinking water.
- Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Many people in the developing world, usually women and children, walk more than three hours every day to fetch water that is likely to make them sick. Those hours are crucial, preventing many from working or attending school. Additionally, collecting water puts them at greater risk of sexual harassment and assault. Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of unsafe water. Of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90% are children under 5 years old.
Honestly, I did NOT know all this a few months ago. I did know that clean, safe drinking water was not accessible to many, but I was unaware of these specific statistics. And these stats have been haunting...HAUNTING...me as I am preparing for the holiday season. 450 billion dollars will be spent in America on Christmas?!? And only 10 billion dollars needed to give the ENTIRE PLANET clean, safe drinking water?!? That is 2%! Are you kidding me? 2% of the spending done on one holiday? Haunting me, as in, waking up in the middle of thing night because I cannot get this out of my head, haunting.
Enter in orphan care project #3.
WATER FOR CHRISTMAS
We knew we wanted to do this project at some point. It's a BIG one. As we were working on the back pack project, this one was moving to the front of my mind as well. We were considering holding off on it because the holidays were coming up. But the decision was made. THIS is what it's all about. It's about realizing that our world is so much bigger than our living rooms...even at Christmas time. And what better way to show it than during this holiday season.
So today is the big reveal.
We are building wells in Liberia.
"HOW?", you ask.
We are partnering with Charity Water. You can visit their website and read more about them at http://www.charitywater.org/.
We fund the wells and 100% of our donations go DIRECTLY to building wells in Liberia, Africa. And we are EXCITED about this. As our money comes in and we raise enough to start building, they will give us GPS coordinates plotted in GoogleEarth to show us exactly where the wells will be built. We can watch videos and see photos of our wells being built and check in anytime. Amazing, right?!? It cost $5,000 to build one well. But, well, our goal is 10 BILLION!
Why not set your goals high?!
How does this look for MY family?
Well this is how it's going to work for the Burbacks:
We had already decided that our Christmas was going to be a little different this year. We are staying home and not traveling anywhere this year...the first time ever, really. And originally I started thinking about how much money this would free up for us to use on gifts. But something about that just didn't feel right. As I looked around my house at unused toys strewn all over and writing up my christmas list for each of my kids, I started thinking, "We don't need a thing. Not a thing."
Now I do up the holidays big time! I LOVE holidays! Every one of them. Birthdays, the seasons, anything that gives me the opportunity to celebrate and decorate and plan. So this is hard for me. But these numbers kept bouncing around in my head. 450 billion. 10 billion. I started invisioning what this holiday season could look like for us, as a family, if instead of putting more money towards gifts, we started talking about big issues outside of our own holiday celebration. Such as CLEAN DRINKING WATER for other families around the world. And I got excited. Really really excited. We are not giving up Christmas all together. No way! We are still decorating, giving, talking about the birth of our Savior. We are just making it bigger. We are talking about the Christmas story in a way we have never talked about it before. We are acting instead of buying. Giving instead of asking.
Each month the kids and I write letters to the children we sponsor in Sierra Leone and in Liberia. So this month we bring in the idea of building a well in the same country that one of our sponsored kids lives in. As well as getting into the holidays, I am a teacher at heart. What a connection we could provide for our kids here. They would GET this. They look forward to writing these letters and learning more about how our sponsored children live. And this month, we bring in the idea of building a well and how if we would just give up one or two things at Christmas this year, we could give children like Assanatu and Darkernue access to safe water.
How just $20 can make a HUGE impact on the life of a child. How $2o can give a person in Africa clean, safe drinking water for 20 years! SERIOUSLY! I have dropped $20 on a gift in past years and not thought twice about it.
Paul and I don't exchange gifts at all, but we do stocking stuffers. I have no doubt that we spend at a bare minimum $20 on each of our stockings. Just there 2 Liberians given clean drinking water for the next 20 years. We usually give each of the kids about 4 gifts at christmas time. I'm sure each one costing at least $20. So we will cut back to 3 each. And look...3 more Liberians with clean drinking water for TWENTY YEARS. Our holiday travels usually run about $120 in just gas. And we are not traveling this year. And there ya go...6 more Liberians with clean drinking water for the next TWENTY YEARS.
That alone makes a difference in the lives of 11 Liberians for 20 years. Now THAT is getting into the holiday spirit, in my book! In fact, I can't think of a better way to "get into" it.
So this is what we have chosen to do as a family. I do not expect that everyone will choose this.
Jody had shared a story that happened a couple weeks ago while she and Andy were in Maryland. A pastor form that church wrote about it HERE.
I loved how he said, "So, if you want to join me in saying, “All I want for Christmas is water,” great, but don’t do it out of guilt or obligation or anything like that or else you will have a miserable Christmas. Do it because you want to. Maybe you will want to give up one gift for water. Or simplify Christmas dinner and give the savings to Water for Christmas. Do what seems right for you."
As I have said before and I will say again, it is just one more outlet. One more way for you to open your eyes and hearts to a much bigger picture. And I love that! I have learned so much by researching this project. I cannot get a glass of ice cold, filtered drinking water out of my fridge door for one of my kids without thinking about another mother on the other side of the world who has to walk literally hours every day to get one jug of muddy water for her family. I think about the water that the Guatemalan people carried up the side of the mountain to put in a big tub for us when we went on a missions trip there last year, and I have a clear image of how a well could impact a whole community for YEARS to come. And each day I am becoming more and more gloriously ruined by these images and by these haunting thoughts.
Another big post to come with all the tools you will need in order to be a part of this month's project. All I ask is that you start thinking. Thinking about the bigger picture and how you could possibly get involved this holiday season.
And interestingly enough, this verse was spoken at church this weekend. I find it fits perfectly...
"All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had."(Acts 4:32)