I have been (or making attempts at) eating gluten free for almost two years now, and I believe I have been gluten intolerant most of my life. For whatever reason, the stuff found in pasta, breads and various other baked goods makes my tummy hurt badly. In many instances, people with a sever intolerance for gluten but continue to eat it could contract things such as certain cancers and other serious health issues. Eating gluten, for some, can change how long he or she lives.
Growing up in a household where Italian food was almost always “what’s for dinner”, I indulged in and enjoyed everything from baked ziti to garlic bread to chicken parm. All of it- yummy… and kind of painful to digest. Still, knowing that this will give me serious stomach issues, it is still difficult to remember to not eat the delicious, glutenous foods displayed before me sometimes. Wedding cakes, good beers…you get the picture. Even though I know its bad for my health, I still struggle with wanting to eat what is comfortable to me. I want to eat what my friends and family eat. I want to eat what, in my mind, tastes the best. Sometimes its gluten.
Take a trip to the floating villages of Cambodia, where their water supply is below their houses. Frequently, people defecate, do their laundry and drink from the same rivers below. In Ghana, West Africa, people collect water from the same yellow-green river that is making them blind. In Haiti, people drink brackish well water they walk hours to get. We have seen first hand the people there, and while it is fun to think about going on a week long trip (or even a few weeks!) and solving their water crisis, turns out we are only deceiving ourselves.
Just like me, the gluten free Italian… I like what I was raised with. Sure, that calzone might make my stomach hurt, but its home to me. These people with unclean and unsafe drinking water around the world…turns out they do, too. They want to do what their friends do; they want to drink what their friends drink. Water collection to them is like a run to Macaroni Grill to me (which has NO gluten free options, thankyouverymuch). Turns out community development is not as easy of a task as one might have thought.
But…change is possible.
When I was having stomach pains and someone simply told me that I was gluten intolerant, I made some small attempts to cook gluten free pasta, but that was about it. In Ghana, if someone is simply to tell you that the water you’re drinking is bad and you should stop, the same thing happens. Change cannot be lasting without understanding. We must change our minds.
I am starting to understand the real toll gluten has on my body. The random things that I thought were unrelated, I have discovered are related. Gluten is not good for me. This has helped me say “no thanks” to those brownies of deliciousness that my housemate makes. It’s those same principles that leak into the community development sphere. We cannot simply go and inform those dying from sickness that its their water’s fault.
This is why I am so excited about Justice Water’s work! We are dedicated to changing hearts and minds in developing nations. We want to see people, young and old, come to understand why they should no longer drink the water that they know and love. Thanks for joining us to help empower and show others the real change that can happen!