Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink. How is it possible that on a planet whose surface is 71% water, 663 million currently lack access to safe drinking water? For all of the progress that we of the first world have enjoyed, one in ten people do not have clean water available.
Imagine a world were nothing is sanitary, where your thirst could destroy your life. Imagine your child so desperate that they drink whatever is available, only to end up hospitalized? The situation is desperate, yet it need not be this way.
Director Crystal Moselle (r)
2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner, director Crystal Moselle returns with Our Dream of Water, a new documentary film making its world premier on National Geographic on March 22 at 6:00 pm EST/PST in celebration of World Water Day. The film, which shares stories of women in Peru, Kenya, and Haiti and their daily struggle to provide their families and communities with clean, safe water, was commissioned by Stella Artois in an ongoing partnership with Water.org to help provide clean water to people of the Third World.
Our Dream of Water opens in Yuncapara, a rural village in Peru, where the indigenous peoples have been living in a state of poverty that is profound. Their only water comes from the mountains, down the hills of mud, sliding into a reservoir that they clean monthly before sending still-dirty water to a village pump. Here, the women awake every day before dawn and line up with jugs and buckets to wait as the water slowly trickles from the faucet.
For the past five years, the government has promised to help but nothing has been done. We watch as a local woman travels to the city of Cusco to present the problem to a local official who adopts a bureaucratic approach, telling her that it’s not about “favors,” which is a curious choice of words. No, he clarifies, that access to clean water is “about doing the paperwork.”
It’s clear that the government does not care about the state the First Peoples of Peru live in; they feel no concern or shame for their lack of basic services. Such a theme continues as we head over to Kamwinzi Village in Kenya, where a group of women have organized themselves to dig water out of the dried up riverbed. Every morning they go, and they dig, exposing themselves and their children to bilharzias, a disease caused by parasites living in water. Some 300 million people suffer from this disease; 90 percent live in Africa.
Kamwinzi Village, Kenya
The women of Kamwinzi make for a striking contrast to those of Yuncapara. Moselle shows us a community that has banded together, through love of dance, music, food, and education. Their situation is bleak but they continue to find hope, joy, and love, showing us that the human spirit can triumph against the odds.
Our last stop is Haiti, where we meet Marie Maille Alexis, a local midwife who has been helping pregnant women since 1971. We are taken inside her world, where she shares the horrors of living without access to clean water and the effects it has had, including her own son who had to be hospitalized. “God is holding our lives. If it wasn’t for Him, the water would have destroyed us,” she reveals. It is a chilling epitaph to a terrible story that doesn’t have to occur.
Marie Maille Alexis, Haiti
Our Dream of Water is part of the “Buy A Lady a Drink” partnership launched by Stella Artois and Water.org in 2015, with a goal of helping to provide 3.5 million people with long-term sustainable access to clean water by 2020.
All photos: Courtesy of “Our Dream of Water.”
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Whitewall, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Jocks and Nerds, and L’Oeil de la Photographie. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.