These days, the thing that I like most about staying in a hotel is being able to wash my face with warm water. A simple luxury, really, but one that eludes me in both the house that I own in Indianapolis and the home that I rent in Kenya. Oh, the bliss of washing with warm water…
In Indianapolis, the ecologically friendly features that make my little red house secretly a green house collide in an unfortunate manner to take away my ability to get hot water from the faucet. The combination of the tankless hot water heater and the low-flow faucets and their respective locations in the house mean that the water coming from the sink faucets does not get warm. In Kenya, my shower is heated by an electric “instant” hot water heater, but there is no water heater for the faucets. And so, the two places where I primarily live do not allow me wash my face with warm water (something I try to do before bed, when I am often cold and shivering already.) In my hotel room, the luxury of a wet washcloth that almost scalds me seems magnificent compared to the gasp-inducing washing I normally experience.
If I stay at your house and you have hot water coming out of your faucets, you may notice that I spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom before bedtime. It’s not a fancy regimen of cleansing and creams that delays me; I’m just enamored with your warm water.
My pleasure in the soothing embrace of a warm washing reminds me, though, what a precious gift it is to have the easy access to the clean, safe water that I enjoy. Hot or cold. I am so gifted in my access to clean water. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence. Children are especially vulnerable, as they are the ones who get the most severely sick from diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses that hide in unclean water.
It’s startling to think that 30,000 people die every week from the diseases caused by unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions. And 90% of those deaths are in children under the age of five. Children the ages of my precious nephews with whom I romped and danced and ate birthday cake this weekend.
We could prevent most of these deaths just by improving the world’s water supply and sanitation. This is my new resolution for the occasions when I get to wash my face my with warm water. Every time I enjoy that bit of pleasure from a temporarily improved water situation, I’m going to make a small donation to an organization that provides clean water options for families in sub-Saharan Africa. (Some of my favorites: Ugandan Water Project , blood:water mission , charity: water )