Imagine my surprise Thursday morning when I looked in my inbox and saw that I had not one, but two donations to my charity:water project, Aqua Jade! I saw the two were for the same amount and from the same person, so I figured there must be a glitch in the notification system. However, when I logged on later, I saw that the person had, in fact, donated twice. Now, this may still prove to be a clerical error, and that’s just fine with me. I’m still stunned by her generosity.
Why? Because I have no idea who “Shawnee M” is. Literally no clue at all. And she gave me $100—my biggest donation yet.
She and I could pass one another on the street, offer to hold the door for each other, or even have a moment of polite conversation while waiting in line and never know that we are connected in one of the most intimate and wonderful ways possible—love and kindness.
This is the second donation I’ve gotten from someone I have no way to thank. Like Blanche DuBois, I’m “depending on the kindness of strangers” for this little attempt at helping others because there’s no way I can come up with that kind of scratch on my own. (I work for a non-profit for goodness sake.) And two people have already stepped up, one of them doing more than double what I did for the cause. She helped not one but four people gain access to clean drinking water by giving to someone who can never repay her for her kindness.
Shawnee M—whoever you are—know that you blessed me in a way you can never imagine. I can only give so much. But if my campaign and my story can get just a few wonderful people like you to help out, we can change the lives of an entire village full of people in Ethiopia. These are people who will never know the prosperity we enjoy every single day. It’s a privilege to serve them alongside you.
A project like this compels a person to see the world in new ways. What could easily be taken for granted are cause for introspection, a reason to question the “why” of things. Honestly, I don’t buy bottled water. Not because I’m against it for ecological reasons (though that thought has crossed my mind) but because, at home and at work, I have access to clean, cold, filtered water any time I want. I put it in cups or my wicked cool Marvel aluminum bottle that I got on sale for $2.50 at the Disney Store. (Yeah, I’m grown. What about it?)
So it’s only natural that I can glide on by the wall of water bottles at the local grocery store every time I run in there. (I don’t know about you, but if I don’t need something, I’m not wasting the time it takes to walk down the aisle.) Today though, still thinking about that $100, I took a look at the endless supply of bottles and thought about just how blessed I am.
I counted fifteen brands. Spring, drinking, purified, and even fluoridated. Flavored, flat, and sparkling. It comes in plastic bottles, ones made of glass, and even aluminum cans. It’s topped with everything from sport lids to screw-on tops. Man, we are truly spoiled for choice.
And this is something about which I must rant.
Of all the bottles on the shelf, which were arranged in order of price, Voss took the grand prize for cost. Two glass bottles of water for $5.00 (at a savings of $.50 mind you!) Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure it tastes great…you know, like water. And the bottle is quite well designed. It’s clean and simple, like something out of Tron. And, to Voss’ credit, they do have a foundation that supplies clean water to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
But there’s something in me, call it common sense, that just can’t fathom paying $2.50 for a bottle of water. Even if it is, in their words, “taken from a virgin aquifer that… has been shielded for centuries under ice and rock in the untouched wilderness of Central Norway.” It sounds like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, not a bottle full of hydrogen and oxygen.
The money someone spends on eight bottles of this stuff could buy a lifetime of clean water for a person in need. Eight bottles is…counting on fingers….168.8 fluid ounces. A gallon is only 128. So for $20 you get less than a gallon and a half of water. Foundation or not, that’s ridiculous, Norway. You have some lovely fjords and were the birthplace of both Edward Munch and Henrik Ibsen. The Vikings were pretty awesome, too, as is the Nobel Prize.
A-ha wasn’t bad either. In fact, if I were an evil overlord bent on destruction, I would spare your frigid nation only because of “Take On Me.” But you can keep your snooty water.