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Same As It Ever Was?

Blood:Water team members walking through an African village

Written by: Dan Haseltine

I recently had the privilege of attending a screening of what film critics have collectively agreed is the greatest concert film of all time. No, it wasn’t the Taylor Swift Eras Concert, ha! It was a film I had seen a few times before, but not on a big screen, and not in a theater with such wonderful sound capabilities.  

The first time I was subjected to the film was in a small music class in elementary school when our music teacher rolled in the AV cart with the tiny box television and a VCR. I was mesmerized even as a young boy.  It was Jonathan Demme’s masterwork of a filmed performance from the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense Tour in 1983. A young, gangly David Byrne at his demonstrative best wearing a comically oversized suit jacket while singing the song, “Once in a Lifetime” still holds a patch of affectionate real estate in the memory banks of my heart.  

For all that has changed over the last 5 decades that I have lived, so many things have not. When Byrne mimicked a Baptist preacher’s arm movements and sang, “same as it ever was, it’s the same as it ever was, same as it ever was,” he was prophesying to a young boy who had not yet lived long enough to feel the truth in those repetitive phrases.

Today, the words, “same as it ever was,” are on repeat in my head as another year flows by and the human condition continues to cycle around and around like an infinite coin dryer. The sock that keeps flipping by is a solid metaphor representing the challenges we continue to see in our world. It isn’t just the problems themselves. One of those flipping socks represents the solutions to the problems. 

If I am being truthful, I must confess that I fall into the realm of insanity, which is to say, I keep doing the same things while expecting different outcomes, all the time. The traditional work of ending health disparities in Africa has been stuck for a long time. But it doesn’t have to be.

The always urgent need for clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene training has been the chorus to the Blood:Water song for twenty years. We have been doing this work for a while now. We have failed and succeeded. We have learned and we have grown. Even as the water crisis and those who attempt to end it keep singing that same chorus…same as it ever was…

I however am tired of “same as it ever was.” I want to wake up knowing the water crisis has ended.  I want to wake up and find a new song that goes, “oh, now this is different!,” has begun. New leaders are rising up to solve the health crises in their communities; “now, this is different!”  

The good news is that we are closer than ever to leaving the “same as it ever was” behind, because Blood:Water IS doing it differently. Our unique model of 8-year funding commitments, a proven organizational strengthening model, and working exclusively with growth-minded community-driven organizations, ensures that our partners are providing solutions that are different.

The ability to fuel this change hangs in the balance of whether we –in our abundance– succumb to false fears of not having enough, or we continue to see that our abundance affords us a ticket to the concert hall where a new song is being sung.  

As we celebrate 20 years of impact, help us change the chorus of development work in Africa. Help us serve local African partner organizations and create lasting change in the communities where health disparity has for far too long been the same as it ever was.

Click below to join the chorus!

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