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Water, Water Everywhere

June 6, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere

We take water for granted. I take water for granted. I remember when I started to drink filtered water to ensure that I would be drinking water that was healthy. That was in the 1980s. Since then, I have used Multipure, Brita, reverse osmosis, and Aquasana filters, and of late I have become a Kangen water drinker and believer, to the point of being a distributor. After all, our bodies are composed of 55-60% water, and we know that water is the source of all life. Clean water equals healthier, cleaner body function. It is essential for prevention of disease; therefore, it is impossible to imagine people surviving without water. Yet there are places all over the earth where communities have no running water, and the water they do have access to must first be carted from polluted rivers and then boiled, and still, the water brings more disease than life.

Last week I learned about one such community and an incredible individual who worked to transform the water reality in Cambodia. Until recent years, Phnom Penh had no running water. Individuals purchased dirty water from trucks for about $1/day. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you realize that it has to cover all of your family’s needs for the day, and it’s dangerous to drink, it’s not such a great deal.

Ek Sonn Chan has worked to see this change. He heads the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, and his main goal is to see that everyone in Phnom Penh gets water to their homes. He has been remarkably successful in seeing that homes are plumbed for water and that it is healthy to drink. Not only is the water better, but it is cheaper. The price has gone down from $1/day to $4/month. In an impoverished city, that might just be affordable.

Chan says that in 1993, only 25 percent of the city had running water. Additionally, the pipes the water ran through were old. They leaked, and water was often siphoned off and stolen. Less than 20 years later, 92% of the households in Phnom Penh have clean running water.

For a poor country, this is an extraordinary result. What is even more inspiring is Chan’s global vision. He says that if Phnom Penh can do it, any city or country can do it.

Ek Sonn Chan is an individual working in his local community as a heartisan, doing works for good from the commitment and devotion of his own heart. He is improving the well being and the quality of life of the people in his city. His mission is to expand the water program throughout the rest of Cambodia. Even at age 61, he has a piece of paper above his bed that says that he will not rest until all of Cambodia has clean running water. But Chan’s vision doesn’t stop there. While he is working locally, he is cognizant of the fact that too many people the world over suffer from not enough water, no clean water or no clean running water. He wants people all over the world tohave access to clean running water in their homes.

I am totally inspired by Chan and his dedication and perseverance. It is a reminder to me that each of us can make a difference – even a very significant one – for people and our planet. It also heartens me to see someone’s vision that goes beyond his everyday circle; his is a vision that encompasses people throughout the world regardless of location, faith, ethnicity or government. Chan draws from a place within himself that is deeply human: wanting to see that that all people have the resources they need for a healthy life, and showing others that this accomplishment is truly possible.

Robin Damsky

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