A few years ago ActiveWater began a campaign to highlight World Water Day on March 22nd. The campaign, named the Two Week Challenge, asks participants around the world to make tap water their only beverage for two weeks. That means no coffee, no pop, no juice--zip, zero, nada. Just tap water. I'll keep track of the opportunities I have to spend money on other beverages but choose water instead, and at the end of the two weeks, I'll donate what I would have spent on other drinks towards clean water projects. For some people that have a daily Starbucks stop or a nightly refreshment, that can be a significant donation!
I believe in the cause, but I'll admit that I kind of dread the Two Week Challenge every year. It's not that I drink lots of other beverages anyway, but I do love my coffee every morning (and sometimes in the afternoon, depending on how my little one slept the night before), I like to have some chamomile tea before bed, and I like to have a glass of red wine while I watch Scandal on Thursday nights. Obviously two weeks isn't that long to live without these things, and it's probably good for my body to flush it out, but it's an interruption in my schedule, which I hate! I know that makes me a wimp, but I also know I'm not alone. A lot of people balk at the thought of giving up their non-water beverages for a couple weeks, thinking they don't want to or can't live without coffee, cola, brewskies, or whatever. It's not running a marathon, but it is definitely a sacrifice.
I've heard many people say that they'll just donate towards ActiveWater instead of sacrificing their beverages for two weeks, and I get that. In fact, I think that's awesome! Is there a bad reason to give money towards a good cause? I'm not sure there is! Even a $10 donations changes lives forever in Zambia. I'm grateful for everyone who makes the choice to contribute--they are changing the world.
So why don't I donate without doing the Two Week Challenge?
I've thought long and hard about this. There have been many reasons along the way to opt out of the Two Week Challenge--reasons that people would have understood, like being pregnant, sick, or breastfeeding--yet no matter how I tried to justify giving myself a pass, I just couldn't do it.
One reason I do the Two Week Challenge year after year is solidarity with those who struggle with a lack of clean, accessible water every day. Clean water is so not an issue for me that I whine about having to drink only that. It's the epitome of a first world problem. So basically, whenever I feel myself getting whiney and think, "poor me, I have to drink water instead," I roll my eyes at myself and remind myself that if I have brothers and sisters in third world countries who struggle to find water every day, surely I can happily partake in this abundant clean water gushing from my faucet for two weeks without whining.
The second reason I continue to participate is solidarity with my friends who are fighting for clean water along with me. I do it for all the athletes who have spent countless hours training for something they never thought they could do, for the volunteers who have woken up at the crack of dawn to work registration tables and distribute water, for all the donors who have sacrificed something they want in order to help someone else they don't even know, and for the staff, interns, and board members that use every opportunity to educate people on all the ways we can help. Compared to all the work that has been done and time that has been given over the past few years, two weeks of drinking tap water seems like a relatively small sacrifice. I do it for the hundreds of other people who are taking the Two Week Challenge, too. We've got this, guys!
Lastly, I do the Two Week Challenge for me. It's good for my heart. It's good for my head. I have a solid routine for my days, and sacrificing all my beverages really messes it up. For me, that is a good thing! Rather than getting wrapped up with my chores and tasks and responsibilities, during the Two Week Challenge I am constantly forced to pause and reflect on what really matters. As I stumble out of bed and make a beeline for the coffee pot, I pause and think about the water crisis. When I'm pouring my toddler a cup of milk and wish I could take a swig of that frothy goodness, I think of the children his age that have been sick their whole lives because of parasites. When I pass a drive thru and get a hankering for Dr. Pepper, I can remember the young girls and women who walk six miles everyday to collect a bucket of water from a dirty source. Having two weeks of sacrifice shakes me out of my first world problems and puts my energy towards all the good I can do with just pennies.
So that's why, as much as a dread these two weeks, I also kind of look forward to them. As with most challenges, they are daunting up front and require unpleasant sacrifice, but after you achieve your goal, you feel so good. I encourage everyone to find something big worth sacrificing for, and to teach our children the value of a global perspective.
If you are looking for an organization to get behind, I have to plug ActiveWater! Check out www.activewater.org for more ways to get involved.