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When Did We See You Thirsty?

In the best of times, the most common means of supplying a household's daily water supply frequently is a miles-long walk to a river. The long return trip includes a full jerry can, a bulky, rectangular plastic jug that weighs about 40 pounds when full.

Women in South Sudan fetching water

Women in South Sudan fetch river water for drinking, which often results in stomach ailments. Now CRS-built pumps in villages like Lubuja and Amika bring clean well water to families. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

Typically, women and girls fetch the water, leaving them little time for school or more profitable, less back-breaking work. And for all that, they're left with several gallons of dirty river water that can make their families sick.

Your support of Catholic Relief Services puts wells and pumps minutes from a family's doorstep. Not only is the water clean and safe, the wells free hours a day to improve family and community life. That translates into education for girls, profitable work for women, increased personal safety—and improved health.

CRS President Carolyn Woo puts water in a Lenten perspective in her March letter about the day the taps went dry in Hong Kong.

If we wanted to sum up CRS Operation Rice Bowl—what it means for Catholics in the United States and for our brothers and sisters around the world—we could do no better than our friends Chris and Sonia Arriola. Do yourself a favor and read this family's touching insights on observing Lent.

Two photo galleries this month look at the powerful difference clean, accessible water makes in human lives around the world. The first is from a small village in Nicaragua, where your support of CRS brings water into homes and eliminates long treks to haul in the day's water supply. The second is a collection of photos that show how your support quenches the thirst for better lives overseas.

Then see how a vial of brackish water helps families in the Philippines determine whether their water source is safe.

And check out this beautiful video about how, by participating in Operation Rice Bowl, you help clean water flow in El Salvador.

Giving the gift of water is an act of compassion and an act of faith. Operation Rice Bowl combines spiritual, physical and intellectual worship that grows from the desire to bring global awareness to our reflections during Lent—and throughout the year.

Here's how you can get involved in Operation Rice Bowl or deepen your commitment to this unique Lenten program.

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