Can you imagine not having access to clean drinking water, or clean water to bathe with, wash with or even cook with? Instead of simply walking to the faucet and turning it on ... imagine having to walk two or more hours to get to a source of clean water.
Nearly 900 million people in the world do not have access to clean water. This is a stark reality -- and, of that number, one in five are children.
In fact, nearly 4,200 children are dying everyday as a result of diseases from dirty water. UNICEF's goal is to reduce the number of needless deaths to zero.
In honor of World Water Week that runs March 22 - 28, the TAP Project, a grassroots initiative to provide clean water to children around the world, invites individuals to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free at participating restaurants or to make a donation at tapproject.org.
Momlogic: What inspired you to become an advocate for clean drinking water around the world?
Joel Madden: The lack of safe drinking water is a worldwide crisis. More than 4,200 kids die every day from diseases caused by unclean water. It's actually pretty shocking. One reason I got involved is simple: we have the power to fix this. These kids don't have to die. I saw this with my own eyes. On a trip to the Central African Republic last year, I saw that UNICEF is providing kids with safe drinking water, and now these kids are healthy. So really, it's not a question of quenching thirst. It's a question of saving kids' lives. That's why I got involved.
ML: You visited Africa last year and met with families who had lost children due to water-related illnesses. As a dad, what was that experience like? How did this experience change you?
JM: I traveled to the Central African Republic (CAR), where a third of the people don't have safe water. So, instead of waking up in the morning and turning on the tap, they may have to walk miles to get water from a dirty stream. Or pay someone for a bucket of water that came from a contaminated well. And after all, the water may make them sick. Even kill them. In a health clinic in this great little town, Sam Ouandja, we met children who were sick and dying from drinking bad water. And met families whose children had died. It was awful. It's a helpless feeling to see children sick for any reason. And knowing they're dying for reasons that, in America and other countries, would never be an issue was something I just couldn't accept. I felt humbled by all of it. And it made me want to work even harder to put an end to these preventable deaths.
ML: Why is the TAP Project so important to you?
JM: I believe we're entering a new time. People my age want to get more and more involved in making the world better. I'm seeing it a lot lately. And the Tap Project is one of those perfect, simple ways to get people engaged ... get them caring about the larger world. So they go eat at a Tap restaurant and they read the UNICEF info there and start talking about how unbelievable it is that all these kids are dying from lack of clean water. They get curious, they get interested. They pay a few bucks for their tap water (knowing it will go to UNICEF) and start wondering what else they can do to help stop children dying. Tap does that -- it gets people talking. And acting. That's what I want to see.
ML: How has being a father changed your perspective and world view? Are you more motivated now to try to make a change in the world?
JM: Being a father has made me look at everything differently. It has helped me understand other peoples' situations a lot better. And things I used to worry about now don't seem as important. When I hear about kids suffering -- or when I meet a kid who is sick and dying from unclean water -- I can't help but think of my own daughter. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to not have safe water to give her. Or how awful it would feel to be forced to gamble with your child's life every time you give them a glass of water. And yes, I am more motivated to make the world a better place, particularly for kids. Because children are innocent, and they don't deserve to suffer for any reason.
ML: What does the TAP Project hope to achieve?
JM: More than 25,000 children die every day from preventable causes, and more than 4,200 of those deaths are from water-related diseases. I believe these numbers should be zero. And that's what Tap is helping to do -- get those 4,200 deaths down to zero by raising money and awareness. Every year the Tap Project grows. I imagine a time when it's a given that every restaurant in America gets donations for UNICEF during World Water Week. That everyone knows about Tap and -- more importantly -- they know about the kids who are dying. And they're acting, all year long, to do something about it.
ML: What can parents do now to effect change in the world? And how can we inspire our kids?
JM: An involved parent knows what it's like to care for another human being, what it's like to put that human being before yourself in every way. That's a powerful thing. So changing the world can start with your own child. Love them and show them what it means to be a good person. And teach them that the world is a lot bigger than it may seem. Inspire them by telling them that they can make a difference, that what they say and do is important. That's another reason I like UNICEF: it gives children a voice and lets them know that they matter. And parents can't just talk the talk. Get involved. Do something that you think would make your kids proud. Set an example for them.
We wish Joel and Benji Madden the best of luck with this worthy cause.
Want to learn more about the TAP Project? Check out the momlogic community.