Bread and water: local events aim to increase compassion for people in need 

Steve Hadley says he no longer lets the water run when he brushes his teeth. The vice chairman of Indiana’s Water for People Committee found his habits changing after a service trip to Guatemala. It’s not that water is limited here in Indiana; it’s just that he knows firsthand how precious a resource it is.

Hadley went to Guatemala as a “water missionary,” along with a group of doctors, and addressed the cleanliness of the village’s drinking water. As a water industry professional (his day job is marketing director at Water Solutions Unlimited in Franklin), Hadley served as a resource for local people on water safety issues — specifically, parasites in the mountain streams they drank from.

Before the mission trip, he says, he didn’t really have “a servant’s heart, you might say, to come back and say, hey, I can make a difference.” But his trip to Guatemala changed all that.

Organizers of Thursday’s World Water Day hope that three short films will have a similar impact on people in Indianapolis and other cities across the U.S.

The film shorts will be introduced by Hadley, who will discuss large and small actions people can take to help those living in water-stressed areas. The goal of the trio of films — total running time is under an hour — is to raise awareness about the realities surrounding water in many parts of the world.

According to international charity Water Aid, clean drinking water is unavailable to nearly 1.1 billion people, about a sixth of the world’s population. The scarcity of clean water is especially hard on children, who die for its lack at a rate of about 4,500 children per day, according to UNICEF/WHO statistics.

In addition to the health crisis, water scarcity has a direct correlation to poverty, particularly in developing countries. For example, women and girls in rural Sub-Saharan Africa may walk up to six miles a day to fetch water, which means time stolen from education and livelihood.

The United Nations designated March 22 World Water Day in 1992. Since 2006, Starbucks, in conjunction with its Ethos water brand, has promoted World Water Day.

Indianapolis resident Teresa Shewman, Starbucks regional marketing specialist, previewed the films last week. She calls the films “powerful” and hopes attendees bring their children along. “I would encourage everybody and anybody to see these movies,” she says. “They completely changed my perspective.”

Shewman notes that some cities are planning Walks for Water. People here can participate virtually by signing up online.

“It boils down to caring for the world you live in. The films and walks are just one small way to get involved and become more aware of issues beyond our own neighborhood.”

For more information or to register for World Water Day events, see

WHAT: Running Dry, One Water and Kenya: An Ethos Water Film
WHEN: free screenings Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Keystone Art Cinema (at The Fashion Mall)

Movement against hunger

If water is life, bread is the staff of life, and Bread for the World is about making sure everyone has enough. The Christian citizens’ movement against hunger will mobilize local members this weekend in conjunction with a visit from national President David Beckmann.

Bread for the World members lobby legislators for fairer policies affecting the poor. With a record of making an impact on hunger both at home and abroad, this year Bread for the World is marshalling its 58,000 members around the nation to tackle the farm bill.

The farm bill, which comes up for renewal every five years, sets U.S. farm policy, with far ranging effects. According to Beckmann, the current farm bill “really misses the need of struggling farmers and rural people.”

Commodity payments, intended to protect farmers from fluctuating markets, typically only go to the wealthiest farm operations. Small family farmers are left out in the cold.

And farmers elsewhere in the world are suffering as a result of U.S. farm policy, too. The commodity payment system focuses on five major crops, flooding the world market with cheap staples. Small farmers in the developing world are unable to compete.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Beckmann believes. “It’s a justice issue,” he says. “We can shift resources in ways that are better for rural Indiana and better for rural Ethiopia.”

Bread for the World has a long history of stepping up to the plate. Started 33 years ago in a church basement, the grass-roots organization addresses the roots of hunger, rather than feeding a broken system.

Beckmann notes, “Religious integrity of any kind requires justice for people in need. It’s not just food banking, but changing laws and structures so people in need can make a living.”

Members’ efforts often have a direct impact on shaping public policy. Last year they pushed to increase funding for programs that reduce poverty and disease around the world. The result? Congress increased poverty-focused assistance by $1.4 billion last month.

Beckmann will lead several “Offerings of Letters” while in town this weekend. He knows that the campaign will be noticed.

“Senator Lugar is one of the most powerful and consistent voices for reform of the farm bill,” he says. “But he needs support from home. He needs people to write him an e-mail or letter and tell him, ‘I want you to push for reform this year.’ If he has a sense that it’s politically feasible to make changes this year, he’ll step out farther into the fray.”

For more information, visit, or call Roger Howard at 317-594-9355 for information on local chapters.

David Beckmann will speak about Bread for the World and lead Offerings of Letters at the following locations:

Saturday, 9:30 a.m., Chapel of Robin Run Village, 5354 W. 62nd St.
Sunday, 8:30 and 11 a.m. (service), 9:45 a.m. (offering), North United Methodist Church, 3808 N. Meridian St.
Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Fairview Presbyterian Church, 4609 N. Capitol Ave.
Sunday, 4 p.m., Butler University, Jordan Hall 172

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