What if there was something that was so vital to your existence that it actually comprised seventy percent of your being? What if that one thing that played such a significant role in your survival was the one thing that was most likely to kill you? That’s the reality for one in six people worldwide that have to go everyday without clean drinking water. Sadly, over 1.1 billion people on earth have to face this harsh realization.
Just off the coast of Panama there is a tribe of people that inhabit the San Blas Islands, called the Kuna Indians. Although they are surrounded by the beautiful Caribbean Sea, they suffer from a lack of clean drinking water. As a result, early infant death and widespread disease among the Kunas has become normality for them. This is where we came in. We shared the love of Christ with these people by organizing a water project for them and meeting a very real need in their lives. Matthew Arbo, a Go Intern, who led the Water Project team, reflects on their time in the islands.
“After riding for over an hour through the Caribbean sea and down a long narrow river leading into the jungle, our team unloaded the small dugout canoes with all the supplies and water we needed for the next few days. As a team of Americans, we began our 10-mile trek through jungle terrain in the 98-degree weather. The next few hours was intense with the load we were carrying, but I was accompanied by these encouraging thoughts as we walked through the thick brush: ‘I imagine this is hardly any type of struggle compared to the lives these Kunas have lived, deep in the Jungle with no fresh water, no convenient stores, and no access to medical care.’ I then realized what blessed lives we have lived.”
Several hours later the team arrived at their work site.
“We had prepared every thing from site operation to maintenance, as well as training others in our place to take over once we left. We then built the solar-powered water filtration system that was able to provide clean drinking and bathing water on a consistent basis for 300 Kunas. The people of the San Blas Islands couldn’t have appreciated it more. Upon the end of our visit, the Kuna’s tribal Chiefs presented us with gifts- hand carved, miniature replicas of the life size oars they use to row their canoes on the islands. As we were handed the gifts, the Chiefs expressed their gratitude, stating how rare it is for people to pick up everything and leave their country to help a community, expecting nothing in return. They told us they couldn’t give us anything that could compare to what we’d given them, but the truth is; we’ve been given so much as Americans and as Christians. How can we not allow that blessing to overflow to those so much less fortunate than us? This is truly our mandate.”
By the team going and meeting a physical need of theirs and demonstrating the love of Christ, we reached the Kunas in a real and relevant way. By expressing the gospel with our works and words, we were able to make a lasting impact on the San Blas islands.