We at Bridges of Saint Mark are so happy to be a part of what’s happening with our friends at Rach Suc Mission Church in Can Tho. Recently, we sponsored and organized a three day event that occurred the first week of March that instructed a team of 15 students on the proper implementation and maintenance of the BioSand Water Filter. Speaking with Father Minh via Skype, he assured me that the training they received from CWS (Church World Service of Cambodia) – was very helpful and thorough. I must say that in that conversation, he seemed rather enthusiastic – more-so than he has in the past about the water project and I’m thinking that it’s because he just spent three whole days focusing solely on the benefits of biosand water filtration not to mention examining the poor condition of their water.
We often forget how fortunate we are in this country where most of us merely go to the faucet and get water clean enough to drink, albeit, we should be more aware about the quality of our own water. Yet, in Vietnam, most, especially those who live in or around the Mekong Delta, have no faucets but rather buckets to get their water, dipping them into the river to get water for drinking, cooking, doing dishes, bathing or swimming. Fortunately, some in their region can afford to buy clean bottled water; however, the vast majority are poor and have no other choice but to use the murky, contaminated river water. Pope Francis in his encyclical letter LAUDATO SI’, he writes:
“Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. This debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor. But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behaviour within a context of great inequality.” LAUDATO SI, paragraph 30
Our ministry at Bridges of Saint Mark is a ministry to help the Rach Suc Mission Church in Can Tho, Vietnam meet the needs of the poor in their community; so our focus is not solely on clean water for the poorest of the poor. However, to avoid the issue of access to clean water is to avoid the root of so many health issues. Again, quoting from Laudato Si, “…unsafe water results in many deaths and the spread of water-related diseases, including those caused by microorganisms and chemical substances. Dysentery and cholera, linked to inadequate hygiene and water supplies, are a significant cause of suffering and of infant mortality. Paragraph 29
Reason tells us that if we, Bridges of Saint Mark, already send funds to Rach Suc to help with food, medicines and medical supplies, then helping the poor have access to clean drinkable water should be one of our top priorities. So the purpose of the three day training was not merely to educate our friends on the mechanics and the science behind the biosand water filtration system as much as it was to raise awareness and to initiate a proverbial “buy-in” in their community. Our hope is that those who are trained will be inspired to champion the cause – helping to ensure that the poorest of the poor in their region will have access to healthy clean, drinkable water.
Again, I would like to thank CAWST for leading us to the work at CWS – Church World Service at Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“CWS works in partnership with communities and families in six Southeast Asian countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam – to help them improve their lives. They do this by enhancing access to information, education and hands-on training for development and disaster preparedness. Church World Service (CWS) is a faith-based organization working to help communities around the world transform through just and sustainable responses to hunger, poverty, displacement and disaster.” The “work in Cambodia began in 1979 with emergency food and medical relief, and continues today as a comprehensive, integrated rural development program for some of the country’s poorest rural communities and families. Rural development initiatives are done in partnership with communities and their leaders as well as Bread for the World and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission as well as several Cambodian government ministries and departments.” “Additionally, because of the need for access to safe water, CWS staffs a WASH Training Center in partnership with CAWST, the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. Center staff work throughout Cambodia to support governmental and non-governmental partners as they provide more Cambodians with access to safe water.”
Many Thanks to our Cambodian friends from CWS – Church World Service; especially Sim Saora for his professionalism and availability.
Please continue praying for our friends at the Rach Suc Mission Church in Can Tho, Vietnam who work so hard for the poor in their community.