Aimee has dedicated her birthday to helping children and communities around the world gain access to clean water.
This March I turned 31. It’s not a “big” birthday, so I didn’t want to do anything too formal – particularly since my surprise birthday party last year was actually planned by my husband Robin and I to be our surprise wedding. After all that I wasn’t going to do anything too fancy. In the end I decided to have a casual morning tea picnic in town with whoever wanted to join me. I was still pretty excited; I had the place mapped out, food planned, that sort of thing, and then Bam! Gastro! Two days before the picnic! I was pretty bummed (pun intended).
I had just started a new job and felt awful about having to call up and say I couldn’t come in because at the time I couldn’t go further than 10 metres from the toilet. I cringed when my new boss said to rest up and drink plenty of water because I knew I didn’t have enough hours earned for sick leave. I’d have to take leave without pay which doesn’t look good during your trial period.
I grumbled to myself about going to the doctor to get a sick certificate. I whinged about not being able to eat any food. I was upset that I wouldn’t see my friends and family that weekend. Some people had accepted my Facebook invitation who I hadn’t seen in ages and I was eager to catch up with people.
All in all I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.
And then I saw World Vision’s post on Facebook about dedicating your birthday to Clean Water. Instead of birthday presents, you ask your friends and family to donate to World Vision instead so that they can provide communities in need with clean drinking water, toilets and tippy taps (taps you turn on with a pedal instead of your hands – much more hygienic).
Splat! (That wasn’t the gastro, that was the sound of my mind being blown away!)
Here I was feeling miserable that I had an illness that would put me in bed (or the bathroom) for a few days when people elsewhere in the world were dying from it. Imagine that!
That certainly gave me a metaphorical slap upside the head. First world problems indeed!
I decided to rethink my position.
“Urrrgh I feel sick!” Well at least I’m not dead!
Gastro kills people in places like Zambia where clean water isn’t an option. My boss told me to drink up and get some rest, she didn’t organise flowers to be sent to my parents on the death of their daughter. And drink up? I can go to any of the eight (read it again EIGHT) taps in my house and get some water – one’s even so special it filters it! This is magical! I’m so lucky! And speaking of water, I can flush away waste with one press of a button! Goodbye germs! Goodbye contamination! I know it will all be carried away from my house and not be mixed in with my drinking water.
Also, I have a magic box in my house that keeps all sorts of drinks and food cold! I have so much food in my house I sometimes have to throw it out because it goes off before I can eat it! Think about it! That’s insane!
And I have a job! A safe, legal, fun job. I’m not begging on the streets or working in a sweat shop . I wasn’t married off at the age of nine to a 30-something guy. I’m blessed. I have an education. I can read.
I’m fortunate enough to live four blocks from a doctor. I don’t have to walk for a week to get there. And you know what? My doctor knows how to help, can prescribe easily obtainable and affordable drugs and doesn’t have to quarantine me for fear of killing more people.
Maybe I can’t see my friends on the weekend. But you know what? I won’t kill them by causing an epidemic! I’m going to get better! I’ve been immunised! I have friends who lived past childhood! Many people in developing countries don’t get that chance.
So, once I calmed down and realised just how privileged I am to be where I am, I signed up. So far with the help of my friends and family I’ve raised over $300 to provide schools and neighbourhoods with hygienic toilets and access to clean water. As I said on the Everyday Hero page, I never thought I’d be asking for a toilet for my birthday, but there you go.
If you’re as lucky as me, sign up too and together with World Vision you can save a few lives with clean water.