Some of you were warned before we left town. For the others, SURPRISE!!!
We're here to ask you to give of your money! :-)
I know, it's everyone's favorite request to receive!
But, it's important. Really, really important.
To save myself time (which I have very little of right now since we just got home with Markos a few days ago), I am just copying the email that I sent out to friends and family here. If you've already received it, sorry. You can leave now (and go to the mycharitywater site & donate). Thanks.
Dear family and friends,
As many of you know, Eric and I have recently traveled to Ethiopia on two different occasions for our adoption of Markos. While we were there, our hearts were broken over the extreme poverty and the depth of need for just basic essentials of life -- food, water, clothing, shelter. Everywhere we drove while we were there, we saw yellow water bottles. Children carried them, donkeys had them strapped to their backs, boys walked along pulling or pushing make-shift carts loaded with them. We were told that, on average, the majority of people in the Southern region in Ethiopia, where Markos' surviving family lives, walk 6 miles a day to find water.
We saw people filling their water bottles in dirty streams where they waded in along with their cattle. We watched boys and girls scoop water from filthy puddles on the sides of the road. We could always tell which way the nearest water source was, by the direction that people were walking with their water bottles. At our guest house in the capital city, we experienced several water shortages while we were there, when the water would just be shut off for hours until the guest house could have some water trucked in.
Until you see it for yourself, until you experience not having water, it's really hard to imagine. We take so much for granted here in the United States.
Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.
90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old. Many of these diseases are preventable. The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation.
Lack of clean drinking water was most likely the major contributing factor to the reason that Markos is now our son. He lost a mother, a 5 year old brother, and a 3 year old sister to "diarrhea". With no mother to care for him, no mother to walk miles for water every day, his father was forced to make a decision that I can't fathom. If Markos would have just been a little older, chances are great that he would have had to assume the job of walking for hours each day to get the families' water supply. We saw many little boys and girls, out walking alone, with their yellow bottles. These boys and girls then can't attend school, the cycle continues, and, as Markos' father said to us when we asked him about his childhood, "It is all the same. Nothing ever changes."
Eric and I have decided to give up our birthdays this year. We have also asked that people not buy Markos a bunch of gifts (that we really don't "need"). Instead, we are asking that everyone consider donating to our Charity: Water campaign to help us raise funds to drill a well in a developing nation like Ethiopia. Each well serves an entire village of 250 people and will provide clean drinking water for 20 years! Seriously, $20 will provide clean water to someone for 20 years!! That's less than one fast food meal for a family of four. 100% of all donations go directly to the water project. Additionally, Charity:Water trains the local people to drill and to maintain the well, helping to keep the projects sustainable.
Words can't describe the depth of poverty that we saw. Please consider donating to our campaign. Water = life. Water = hope. Things can change for these people with a little help from you and me. You can donate online via credit card or you can send Charity:Water a check. Just please be sure to write our campaign code on the subject line of the check. It is MYCW-13206. The mailing address for checks is:
200 Varick St., Ste. 201
New York, NY 10014
If you wish to include a message for the website & are mailing a check, simply include the message with the check in the envelope. Charity: Water will enter these donations to the web page by hand. All donations are tax deductible. You will receive a receipt with every donation sent. (Online donations will receive an immediate receipt via email. Mailed donations will receive a receipt within 3 - 4 weeks after the check is processed.) Our campaign can only last for 90 days. We are starting now,a few days after my 40th birthday. We will end on April 29th, about 2 weeks after Eric's birthday.
Please help however you can:
1) Go to: http://mycharitywater.org/starkfamily to make your donation.
Or, if you prefer, mail a check, including the campaign ID# (MYCW - 13206), to the above address.
2) Help us spread the word.
Feel free to forward this email to all your friends and family or to give the above web address to people.
3) Pray that we can successfully raise the $5000 needed to drill a well and provide water to a community in great need.
Thank you for your support!
For those of you who weren't already aware, Eric and I just returned from Ethiopia with our new 4 year old son, Markos, on Friday. He is an absolute doll with a smile that lights up the room! Feel free to check out our adoption blog at www.starksjourney.blogspot.com for pictures and videos.
Lori & Eric Stark
P.S. A little challenge for us all -- when we returned from Ethiopia on Friday, Mackenzie surprised me with a "birthday present". She gave me $150 of her own money that she had been saving to buy herself an i-Pod touch or an i-Pad to put towards the Charity: Water well project. Eric and I have matched her gift. If a 13 year old can give almost all the money that she has been saving for months, surely we all can give something. Right?! ;-)
And so that there is at least a little new content, here are a few pictures that we took while in Ethiopia of people carrying their water jugs, some wells that we passed, etc. I tried to take about 350 more than this, but it was from a moving van on horrendous roads so they're a little bit blurry. I picked a few of the best for you, my fine bloggy friends.