Thirst for Change – A report by Bernard White, Campaigns Coordinator

Last week we told you about Becky Ginnever, who is Walking for Water to raise awareness and funds for CAFOD’s Thirst for Change campaign. Becky has now begun her walk – you can keep up to date with her progress via her CAFOD blog.

Below, Bernard White gives you more information on the Thirst for Change campaign.

“I was thirsty and you gave me a drink…” (Matt Ch 25)

Sitting on the Mount of Olives, Jesus taught his disciples, and we are all very familiar with his account of the Last Judgement. Here, Jesus set out the criteria for a good life and those for a bad life, by which we will be judged at the end of time.

The quotation, above, is one of those fundamental good actions which Jesus identifies as being a criterion for a good life. In our campaign, Thirst for Change, CAFOD offers us an opportunity, and a challenge, to “give someone a drink”.

Thirst for Change – a summary

This is Esther who lives in Zambia. Three nights a week, she has to lose five hours of sleep getting water. Like millions of women and children around the world, she carries 100 litres of water back home. Esther also has a home to run and manages a vegetable business with her husband.

This is unimaginable hardship and Jesus’ words ring in our ears…

The question is, are these just words we hear at Mass, or will we do something to help Esther and the millions in the world who lack access to water?

884 million people lack access to clean water; 2.6 billion live without sanitation. Our sisters and brothers around the world thirst for change.

Thirst for Change – background

We take water for granted. Being able to turn on a tap and get a glass of clean, fresh water is a fact for us – like having clothes on our backs or a bed to sleep in. Using a toilet is as commonplace as having a pen to write with.

Yet one in eight of the world’s population live without these luxuries – they still can’t access clean water. And over a third don’t have safe sanitation – toilets and sewage systems that hygienically flush away our waste.

The effects ripple out: hospitals in the poorest countries are overwhelmed from treating illnesses like cholera and dysentery, and children are forced to miss many school days each year. The burden of collecting and carrying water falls primarily on women, who can spend up to eight hours every day carrying 40kg of water on their heads or backs – that’s the equivalent of 40 bags of sugar.

Our faith calls us to act

As Christians, we can’t stand by and watch while others suffer. In May 2012, the world’s most powerful nations – the G8 – will meet. We want our Prime Minister, David Cameron, to ensure they take real steps to turn the tide on water poverty – providing the finance, expertise and political pressure to end the world water crisis.

Together our actions – like many drops of water – can form a river of change that runs right to the heart of Downing Street.

The Thirst for Change campaign action will take only a few minutes of anyone’s time. It involves signing a card to the Prime Minister, asking him to act at the G8 meeting in May. This is so simple. Experience has shown us that the greater number of cards sent the more likely it is that the Prime Minister will act.

I shall be contacting all the parishes and others in the Archdiocese of Southwark, to ask that our clergy get behind the Thirst for Change campaign. Their support is essential because the only way to reach most Catholics is when they are gathered together at Mass each weekend. Therefore, in addition to family and friends, please speak to your priests. Explain to them what the Thirst for Change campaign is about and why you think that it is important to engage as many parishioners as possible to sign and submit a campaign card.

Your help and support is absolutely vital. Please let me know how you get on by sending me an email at or by writing to me at CAFOD Southwark.

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