One flush of a toilet takes up as much water as a family in the Sudan uses for a day. Women travel on foot miles every day to bring back water to their villages. The water they find is often contaminated with parasites and dangerous bacteria that lead to sickness and even death.
These are a few of the facts I picked up as I gathered with women from my parish to hear about the plight of the Sudanese people and their need for fresh sources of water. I left feeling overwhelmed by the hideous conditions under which so many people in this world live. I also felt a sense of hope and gratitude for the individuals and organizations who work to alleviate the suffering and to find solutions to the systemic problems that keep entire countries in such need.
The purpose of our afternoon gathering was not only to learn about conditions in Sudan, but also to participate in a solution. Here in Denver, a “Walk for Sudan” is scheduled for next Sunday. It will bring together people from across the metropolitan area to take a three-mile walk around a local reservoir in order to raise money for water, health, and education projects in the Nuba Mountains and South Sudan. One option is to take the walk while balancing a container of water on one’s head. It’s a visceral way to understand what the women of Sudan do each day.
The seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching have been culled from the Church’s tradition of advocacy and action on behalf of the poor and marginalized. Each one articulates a particular call to work for justice on behalf of workers, respect and dignity for families and individuals, stewardship of the earth’s resources, and a global vision that brings us together as a community dedicated to peace and unity. Over the years, these themes have served as an invaluable way to tweak my conscience and to expand my worldview beyond my own immediate needs and concerns. Participating in an effort to provide fresh water sources to the people of Sudan is one way to take these social teachings to another level.
Review the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching by visiting the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops website. Then spend some time reflecting on a way you can answer the call to expand your worldview and to help your children and students to do the same.