Blame It on Rio: How the World Can Learn About the Need for Clean Water

The 2016 Olympic Games began yesterday, August 5th, in the international city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tens of thousands from around the world have congregated in the city to participate in the games, and millions of television viewers plan to watch the competitions.

In the months preceding the opening ceremonies, there has been a lot of media chatter about the ‘behind the scenes’ issues surrounding the event – construction delays, bad event management, local crime and poverty, and water conditions.

Water and the health issues related to the local water conditions in Rio have been a real shocker to much of the world. As more people around the world become aware of the local conditions, some athletes have even chosen to not attend the games due to health risks. Those athletes that will be competing in water sports that involve the local waters are in danger of infection. Over seven different infections have been identified in the sewage-laden waters in the bay and surrounding waters.

“People also could become infected if they consume drinking water that isn’t purified,” a CBS News article reports. “This could be expected in a large city like Rio, where there are great disparities in wealth.”

rio-water-qualityWelcome to the Rest of the World

Citizens living in developed nations, like the U.S., and in Europe, can sometimes be a bit naive about the rest of the world. We ‘westerners’ are very lucky (in most cases) to have the infrastructure and economic stability to take things like clean water and sanitary conditions for granted.

But, for the rest of the world, including places like Brazil and the Dominican Republic (where Water@Work Ministry is serving), there can be even greater wealth and income gaps. These gaps create two very different world experiences, with most of those populations living in conditions that can cause major health issues for those most vulnerable like the young and the very old.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 2.6 billion people – half the developing world – lack even a simple ‘improved’ latrine and 1.1 billion people has no access to any type of improved drinking source of water.

Are We Living the Gospel?

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:35-40


What we are seeing of Rio de Janeiro and the rest of the world through the next 17 days of Olympics coverage is a glimpse of a world that needs our loving attention 365 days a year.

When the flame is extinguished, the games will end… but those living in poverty and unsanitary conditions will remain in places like Rio, Santo Domingo and across this planet.

Where governments lack the ability or the will to change the lives of these individuals, NGO’s and organizations such as Water@Work Ministry have had to step in to help affect change.

Responding to Jesus’ commandment from Matthew, Water@Work Ministry is focused on developing the infrastructure and support to change the lives of over 1 million of those in need in the Dominican Republic (DR). It is in the service of our fellow man that we are in the service of God.

Will you help us serve Him in the DR?


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