Give Drink to the Thirsty
Jesus said to St. Faustina: "... I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it" (Diary of St. Faustina, 742). The following is the second part of our seven-part Lenten series on the corporal deeds of mercy and how we can — and should — incorporate them into our lives.
I was ... thirsty, and you gave Me drink.
— Matthew 25:35
Nearly 1-billion people lack access to a supply of safe water. More than 3.4 million people a year die from water-related diseases. Every 21 seconds a child in the world dies of such diseases. Nearly one-fifth of all childhood deaths are caused by diarrhea, which kills more young children than AIDS, TB, and malaria combined. (Source: water.org.)
We live in a world that's thirsty. What can we do?
Giving drink to the thirsty can be in the form of making monetary or food donations to the local food bank, soup kitchen, and other initiatives that bring food and drink to the poor. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops partners with Catholic Relief Services on several clean water initiatives around the world.
Moreover, giving drink to the thirsty can also be accomplished through our role as voters and through our lifestyle choices, says Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. "For example, we can support clean water policies to ensure that there will be clean water for future generations to drink. Meanwhile, right in our own homes we can make our contributions to the effort to preserve clean, fresh water: for example, by using environmentally friendly laundry detergents or by trying to be moderate in the amount of water we put on our lawns or use in showers."
Here's an example of a group dedicated to providing drink for the thirsty:
The Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, have done remarkable work in bringing fresh water to areas of the world suffering without it. The founder of EADM, Dr. Bryan Thatcher, tells the following story of how some students at his local Catholic high school in Florida made a big difference to people on the other side of the world who lack fresh, clean water:
I knew that typhoid and other diseases were rampant in part related to a lack of fresh drinking water in developing countries. A seminarian from Nigeria told me once during a visit there that I had saved his life. I looked at him in surprise and asked why. He said the antibiotics we had sent over had treated his typhoid, and without them he would have died.
Sometime later I coordinated efforts with Bishop Martin Uzuokwu of the Diocese of Minna, Nigeria, and Tampa Catholic High School to raise monies for a well in Nigeria. At that time, a well could be dug and provide fresh water for an entire village for $3,000. The students raised monies in a variety of ways, and I was amazed that when it was all done we had $9,000 — enough for three wells. So, through these efforts, men, women, and children of three separate villages were able to get fresh drinking water!
It was a small effort, and the students may never meet the people that benefited. But it was a work of mercy that will bear good fruit for many years to come.