Three Days of Discomfort

– Guest written by Brooke Ramos, student, Canada – 

Dedicated to Brahim Lebbar, Natalia Tovilla Batiz, Eduarda Fernandez, and Calvin Devries

When faced with months and months of potential quarantine, it is easy to fall into a pit of apathy. This apathy stretches into all areas of life, from fitness to friendships, it saps all motivation, but it is especially poisonous to our initiative – the drive to create change and benefit others. Confined at home, the options for activism on a large scale seem rather limited. Group rallies are out, so are demonstrations, so are service trips – so… how can you change the world from the confines of your bedroom? This is the question I began to ask myself two months into quarantine at which point I was starting to lose my mind, spending hours on social media every day.

Global equity is something I’ve always cared about. The idea that, in 2020, there are still millions of people who lack access to clean drinking water – a basic human right – while we, in North America, enjoy hot showers and install sprinklers to make our lawns look pretty, is absurd. Such a disparity cannot be ignored. Yet that is exactly what I, and many others, have been doing for years – ignoring it – until COVID – 19 came around and gave me time to think. My thought process was as follows: there are many unjust things happening around the world… wow, how terrible… and here I am perpetuating these problems by doing nothing… huh, maybe I should do something… but do I really want to invest my time into a cause that could come to nothing?… I mean, I’ve got things to do, photos to like… what a tough decision… instagramming vs. changing the world… And that is how I came up with the idea of creating a discussion group for other apathetic yet socially conscientious people.

The group is made up of fellow university students with an interest in social justice. We meet once a week to discuss political, environmental, and social issues that are on our minds. It’s great. Discussion promotes the questioning of long-held beliefs and encourages the acceptance of new ideas, but it can only go so far, which is why we invented the “Three Days of Discomfort” – a three day fundraiser challenge that promotes action and the pursuit of tangible change. Essentially, the challenge obligated us to give up a basic comfort each day over a three day period and experience the hardships that many people in developing countries face on a regular basis. On the first day, we slept on the floor, the second day, we fasted for twenty four hours, and the third day, we turned off all technology (lights included). Each participant pledged a starting amount of ten dollars to Pure Water for the World and would pay ten extra for each challenge failed. For the most part, we pulled through. Fasting definitely brought renewed appreciation for the food filling our fridges, and renewed sympathy for those who are forced to go without for much longer than twenty four hours. Once the three days were up, we shared our initiative with friends and family in the hopes of raising enough money to buy a water filtration system for a family in need. Forty eight hours later, we reached our goal, and we have now raised enough money to buy two water filtration systems for families in Haiti and Honduras. What an amazing feeling it is to know that a small initiative taken by a handful of university students can have a major impact on the lives of other people.

If we all contribute what we can, whether that be money. our time, or our encouragement, I have faith that, little by little, there will be a marked change in this world. Apathy will tell you that you are only one person – inconsequential, not big enough to make a difference, but a movement is made up of thousands of individual notes; each one essential to the melody, and together, these movements combine to form a symphony so beautiful it could steal your breath away.

Updated June 10: Brooke raised enough money to provide more than six entire families with lasting access to safe water. The families will receive a clean water filter as well as comprehensive hygiene education, including: environmental, home, personal hygiene (including critical handwashing practices), and menstrual hygiene management. 

If you are inspired and would like to create a similar fundraiser, send us an email and we’ll get you started. You can also support Brooke and her friends by donating to their fundraiser (click here) and help them reach even more families. 

A heartfelt thank you to Brooke, her friends, and those who supported this vision to create change. Brooke, thank you for your passionate dedication to improving the lives of vulnerable people. Your inspiration will change lives forever.