“I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.”
Giving a drink to the thirsty is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy Jesus described in the Gospel of Matthew as a model of faith-filled living. Providing clean, safe water to our brothers and sisters in need is one of the ways Cross Catholic Outreach supporters are serving Jesus directly.
Recently, faithful U.S. Catholics joined our global efforts to quench the thirst of families in need through our Clean Water for Families initiative. This effort is helping to fund lifesaving water and sanitation projects in Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Africa. Read on to learn more about the need for clean water, how our supporters are making a difference, and the families forever changed by water relief!
A child wakes up around 4 or 5 a.m. and rubs her tired eyes. Pulling herself from her bed, she grabs a nearby bucket, takes a deep breath, and heads out the door with only one mission on her mind: finding enough water to meet her family’s needs for the day.
It is still dark when she journeys into the thick underbrush. She walks quickly and casts nervous glances at the wild terrain surrounding her. She has heard frightening stories — accounts from women in her village who were assaulted by robbers on their way to collect water. Others have been bitten by scorpions or encountered wild animals along the path.
By the time she finally reaches her destination, the girl’s legs ache and her heart is pounding in her chest. She catches her breath and joins the line of other women and children who have already gathered at the meager water source. After a painfully long wait, she finally collects her paltry “reward” — murky, contaminated water that will likely make her stomach hurt. Still, this water is better than no water at all, so she hoists the heavy bucket onto her head and painstakingly retraces her steps back home, cautious not to spill a drop.
The story above details the challenges faced by more than 2 billion people who do not have access to safe water at home. For about 785 million of these people, collecting water takes 30 minutes or longer, and roughly 485,000 diarrhea-related deaths occur annually because of water sources infested with bacteria or other contaminants (World Health Organization).
These are heartbreaking statistics, but thanks to compassionate American Catholics, the tide is turning on this tragedy! Cross Catholic Outreach is currently working to fund 24 water and sanitation projects in 12 developing nations. Some of these projects are now complete and others are still underway, but together, they will eliminate the burden of water scarcity for well over 225,000 people.
Here are just a few of the projects that faithful friends like you are helping to make possible:
By supporting programs like these, U.S. Catholics are helping to rewrite the future for families around the world!
The Kobonal Haiti Mission, located in the Diocese of Hinche, is one of the ministries working to change the narrative for families in need of clean water. Father Glenn Meaux and his devoted team share the love of Christ through integral relief programs that address both material and spiritual needs.
Since 2003, Cross Catholic Outreach has fueled the Mission’s efforts to provide spiritual formation, food support, safe housing, medical care, Catholic education, economic empowerment and clean water. This year, compassionate Catholics are again helping the Mission to install new wells and repair existing ones — a blessing that will deliver nearly 3,000 people from water-related hardships!
Rose Fenelus is a hardworking mother and past beneficiary whose life was radically changed by a well from the Kobonal Haiti Mission. For years, Rose, her husband and their five children had relied on a small, unprotected pit to quench their thirst. This shallow pit did not contain enough water to serve the entire community of Ratpè, Haiti, so if Rose arrived too late in the day, she would find nothing but mud remaining.
“In the past, it was difficult to find water. Sometimes we got up at 4 a.m., but we couldn’t find water,” Rose explained. “When it rained, the spring water caused diarrhea and fever in the children. … When it was raining, the water was really dirty.”
Fights often broke out among frustrated neighbors who were desperate to collect enough water. Life seemed to be an endless cycle of thirst, disease and disappointment — until Cross Catholic Outreach supporters united to provide a lasting solution! Today, the people of Ratpè collect abundant water from their hand-pump well, and Rose gives thanks to God.
“Now we have a well that gives us plenty of water. We say thank you to God because we no longer suffer for this need,” Rose rejoiced. “This well has changed our lives. We don’t worry about our water. We no longer get up during the night, and we no longer fight for a little water. We say thank you to our donors and ask God to preserve their lives.”
Matthew 25 reveals an incredible spiritual truth — that those who extend mercy to the poor actually offer comfort and love to Christ himself!
We are so thankful to everyone who has taken action to answer our Lord’s cry for clean water. Because of their compassion, families that once suffered from repeated waterborne illnesses are filled to the brim with the refreshing hope of Christ. Their lives are no longer consumed with the search for water, and this gift is empowering them to prosper.
Working together as the Church, we can continue to alleviate the global water crisis that afflicts so many families in need! Please — continue to consider the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world who still lack access to safe water. Lift them up in your prayers, and give generously to quench their thirst with clean water.
As Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.