Saturday, December 24, 2011

Obenieta: Water power by Myke U. Obenieta

All things dire never dry up. Yes, some eyes and ears are still wet over the swell of reports that prove tears over tragedy pour when it rains. Hardly surprising, therefore, if one would be waxing sloppy with a sinking feeling that it’s a cold December in the soul.

The spirit of Christmas is not supposed to be the stuff of horror, right? If wrong, we may as well re-imagine the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding roughshod over Santa’s reindeers, and consider the neighborhood carolers no different than a Greek chorus gritting their teeth in despair and drowning in their own spit.

Or say, as any optimist would spout off watered-down truths of cliché, that hope floats. Only the dead, after all, cannot decide anymore whether to sink or swim.

In this tide of gift-giving, how to make a splash as far as charity is concerned and cast a wide ripple? 
Beyond the body count in our own calamity-prone shores, the numbers can be numbing where perspective pans out to an overflow of odious data culled from the World Health Organization (WHO): 

An estimated 3,575 million people die each year from a scarcity of safe drinking water and lack of latrines and hand-washing facilities. At least 4,100 of these deaths are children, 90 percent of them under age five.

Factoring in the fact that nearly 900 million worldwide, or 1 in 8 people, suffer from thirst and water-borne viruses, the WHO’s calculation also figures a solution to the problem: Generosity worth $20 can provide a lifetime of potable water for one person, and a dollar invested in improved water sanitation and access (especially in some parts of Africa where most women spend at least 40 billion hours a year walking to search for and to fetch water) can lead to an average of $12 in economic returns.

In the face of the water crisis on a global scale, some celebrities have set the stage for a sea-change in America’s culture of self-gratification and materialism. A recent Manhattan charity ball had 2,000 people paying $300 to $1,000 a ticket to hobnob with Hollywood stars who have parlayed their fame to boost water-themed fundraisers whipped up by websites offering holiday social events.

Among the organizer is social activist Scott Harrison, a former night-club promoter, whose crusade caught media attention when he “commandeered” the disc jockey’s booths at Manhattan clubs and showed slides of African children drinking muddy water to partygoers.

On behalf of website, Matt Damon has appeared in a video as Santa Claus having a wacky talk with children, urging them to give up their wishes for toys and buy instead the website’s water bottles for the benefit of his organization’s indigent recipients.

Like Damon, other celebrities have taken his cue for a worthy cause at, an online site that tracks cause-oriented celebrities and lists 186 famous names forking over dollars to water-oriented charities.

It’s not only in the movies, we hope, where dreams soak up the spirit of the holidays.

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