"My Heart Stopped"

December 11, 2013

by Carolyn Howarth, Senior Projects Communications Advisor

A Samaritan’s Purse staff member hasn’t been the same since watching a boy in Cambodia lift a plastic bottle of murky water to his lips. She explains how our Water Projects have impacted families overseas like this boy’s, as well as her own at home – and how you too can share the gift of clean water this Christmas.

We all understand at some level that dirty water is bad.

We wish that no one had to drink it.

We may even know some of the overwhelming statistics—like the fact that 780 million people don’t have access to clean water, or that over 4,000 children and adults die every day from diseases caused by dirty water.

I knew all of this. I’ve had the privilege of serving on staff with Samaritan’s Purse for nearly 10 years. I’ve read countless stories, spoken with staff who work in dozens of countries, written grant proposals, and prayed earnestly for Samaritan’s Purse Water Projects.

Yet last summer, when a little Cambodian boy stooped to fill an old plastic water bottle from a murky, smelly pond in front of his home and then drank the greenish-grey liquid, my heart stopped. As I stood just meters away from him, my stomach churned, not with the discomfort of the parasites and germs that he had likely just ingested, but with emotions ranging from shock and sorrow to outrage and compassion.

I knew I had just glimpsed an everyday occurrence for this boy and his family. However, it gave me a much deeper understanding of the global water crisis. What I’d known in my head, I now knew in my heart and will never forget it.

What kept me from being completely overwhelmed with emotion was the realization that his life was about to change. The Samaritan’s Purse Water Team that I was part of had just installed the sand and gravel into his family’s new BioSand Water Filter and they could begin using it right away. Samaritan’s Purse’s local partner staff had taught his parents how to easily maintain the filter and, as we had seen so many times in the preceding days, they also offered to pray with the family and shared the hope that can be found in Jesus Christ.

At Christmastime and all year-round, BioSand Water Filters are a great way to give the gift of a healthier life and the opportunity to hear the Gospel to precious children and their families in places like Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Kenya. This has become a favorite gift to give and receive in my family and is a beautiful way to honor someone special in your life. Use the following links to visit the Gift Catalog, to read more about Samaritan’s Purse Water Projects, or to find out about joining a Samaritan’s Purse Water Team.

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