Water You Waiting For?
A Better World Kids Adventure
by Robert Alan Silverstein
illustrated by Vineet Siddhartha

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Chapter 1. Water You Waiting For?

Usually when the Better World Kids met for their weekly meetings, they found themselves magically transported from their homes all around the world through their computers into the hazy emptiness of cyberspace. But this time was very different. This time, after they typed in the web address of their Better World Kids Team, they were transported to a bustling water park, where they were sitting together on a log flume ride. Their log-boat was rapidly rising up a steep, steep hill.

Ahmed, the club secretary, didn't even have time to call their meeting to order. None of the kids had time to say their hello's because before they knew it, their log-boat had reached the top of the flume. For just a moment the world was completely still and they found themselves holding their breaths. No one said a word. Then, in another thrilling instant, they suddenly began plunging downward.

The Kids laughed and squealed in delight as the wind rushed through their hair. Water splashed all over them, and the water park flashed by in a blur of exciting colors. What a great way to start an adventure, they thought. They were having so much fun. But then suddenly they noticed something was wrong.

The first sign of trouble was that they didn't hear the sound of rushing water anymore. They no longer felt it splashing on their faces. Instead, wisps of sand rushed by. As they looked over the side of the log boat, they saw the flume was completely dry. The log-boat was travelling a little slower perhaps, as the boat bumped up and down against the sandy bottom of the flume, but they were still plunging rapidly downwards.

As if that weren't frightening enough, José squeaked out another troubling discovery. "Uh guys. Don't look now, but we're about to crash into a giant tower of empty plastic water bottles…" he gasped.

The first thought that crossed everyone's mind was that José was joking; he was always kidding around. But as they looked up ahead, a giant tower of empty water bottles was exactly what they saw. It stretched up into the sky for as far as they could see. And they were heading right towards it.

"Duck everyone!" Erin gasped as she scrunched lower in the log-flume.

"Water you waiting for?" José added as he saw Johnny and Sol in the seats in front of him hesitate just a moment. He didn't even think to congratulate himself on the pun his subconscious had come up with - this was serious! But part of him was a little disappointed that no one laughed.

The Kids all crouched down and braced themselves as they smashed through the tower. Water bottles flew everywhere as the tower crashed down and empty bottles fell, and fell and fell and…

As the Kids opened their eyes they were shocked to see that they were falling, too, along with the billions and billions of plastic bottles. The flume had apparently ended at the tower; the log-boat had fallen over, and they were all free-falling through the blue sky. Without parachutes!

Chapter 2
Captain Kindness to the Rescue, Again…

The Kids had been on enough adventures to know that nothing bad could happen to them in cyberspace. But that didn't stop them from panicking. This was really scary!

Just as they were about to become really frightened, Sunanda noticed something swimming in the air, pushing bottles out of the way. "Kit!" she cried out, and all of the kids turned to where she was pointing.

Sure enough, Kindness Kit, the robotic cat they'd met on a previous adventure, was rapidly heading towards them. "Meow," he called out reassuringly.

Before another instant had passed, Kit pulled out a yarn ball from his belt with one paw and started swinging it around his head with his other paw. The Kids watched as the yarn flew towards them. Miraculously, it wrapped around each of them.

Suddenly the line went taut and the kids stopped falling. They watched as the robotic cat reeled them in, pulling paw over paw until they were floating by his side. The water bottles rained down all around them.

"Meow," Kindness Kit declared and pointed above them.

The Kids saw a shiny metallic spacecraft. Of course it was the Kindness Cruiser, piloted by none other than Kit's best friend, Captain Kindness. Kit tossed his end of the rope up to the ship. As the Kids began rising towards the Cruiser, towed in by the yarn lifeline, they couldn't wait to see their favorite superhero once again.

Captain Kindness was glad to see them, too. But when they were safely aboard, he asked the kids to hold their questions and hold on, because the ship was quickly being buried under a mountain of plastic.

They braced themselves as the Kindness Cruiser rocketed upwards through the seemingly endless cascade of falling bottles.

In another instant they had broken free of the Earth's atmosphere and the Kids were staring down at their home planet in shock. It was almost completely shrouded in a blanket of floating disposable water bottles!

Captain Kindness was as confused as they were. "What are those polyethylene trephthalate thermoplastic polymer resin containers?" he gasped.

"Uh … those are empty plastic water bottles," Sol and Erin and Jamal said at the same time.

"But there's so many of them," Ling gasped.

"Meow," Kit said from the control panel, where he was busily tapping and pulling and pushing on the console's buttons and levers and knobs.

"Kit's counted 50 billion of them," Captain Kindness translated.

Ahmed was busy typing away on his own laptop. "This says that's how many water bottles people use each year…" he said. "Enough to circle the Earth 100 times!" he added.

"Whoa!" the Kids gasped. Captain Kindness couldn't understand why the water bottles were needed at all. Let alone 50 billion of them. And that's just what he asked the Kids.

"I guess people find them more convenient," Sunanda offered.

"Sure must use up a lot of resources," Captain Kindness commented.

Kit meowed a few times as he typed away on the control panel and pulled up the numbers he was looking for.

"Wow," their favorite hero sighed. "According to Kit's research, with the amount of petroleum that's used to make the plastic bottles, you can heat 190,000 homes all year long or drive a million cars for a year..."

"And," Ahmed added pulling up his own research, "another billion gallons of oil are used up transporting the water bottles to stores all around the world!"

"Meow," Kit called out.

"What? That's crazy!" Captain Kindness laughed.

"Meow!" Kit insisted.

"Oh," the Captain said. "Well, apparently 3 liters of water are used up in the manufacturing process to create each empty 1 liter water bottle."

"That is crazy!" the Kids agreed.

"Whoa!" Ahmed added looking up. "Get this… 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide are produced in the manufacturing process, too!"

"But that's a greenhouse gas," Maya gasped. "That means using plastic water bottles is making global climate change worse!"

Captain Kindness shook his head sadly. "Well at least the used bottles are all recycled, right?" he asked.


"Really?" the Captain sighed. "According to the figures, four out of five water bottles end up in landfills, or are dumped into the oceans…"

"It can take a thousand years for plastic to completely break down," Erin pointed out.

The Kids all agreed that this was a terrible situation.

Everyone seemed so quiet and thoughtful. "So... Water we going to do about it?" José asked in his usual half-joking half-serious way, to try to liven up the mood a little. Even though no one seemed to notice the recycled joke he'd already used on their adventure, thinking about a positive solution was just what they all needed.

"Meow," Kit said.

"Right!" the Captain agreed. Kit punched some controls and a panel opened up on the outside of the Cruiser. A big vacuum cleaner wheeled out into space and started sucking up the bottles.

"We'll get these off to recycling plants right away," the Captain explained. "But what are we going to do about this situation for the long run…?" he asked. "The earth will be covered in more bottles in no time!"

The Kids put their thinking caps on. "We'll just have to get the word out about what a problem plastic water bottles are!" Ahmed said.

"Yes, we'll let people know about better alternatives," Sunanda agreed.

"In many places tap water is perfectly safe to drink," Johnny offered.

"We have a filter on our faucet," Michiko agreed.

"We use a water pitcher filter," Ling said.

"I use a refillable water bottle," Sol said reaching into his backpack and pulling his out to show everyone.

"Me, too," Maya and Ahmed declared.

"I'm going to get one as soon as I get home!" José promised. "No more plastic water bottles for me! No way José!"

Captain Kindness looked really pleased. "Kit and I had been passing by your galaxy when we saw the Red Alert coming from Earth. It said you had a 'water emergency!'" He looked out as the vacuum cleaner rolled back into the ship - its job complete. "Well, first we saved you all … by the way, good job Kit," he said to his trusty side-kick.

"Meow," Kit purred proudly, looking up from the control panel.

"And we figured out a solution to the bottled water problem," Captain Kindness continued. "So I guess the crisis is over," he concluded.

"Hooray!" the Kids exclaimed together. Captain Kindness had saved the day, once again!

"Meow!" Kit said concernedly.

"Are you sure?" Captain Kindness gasped.

"Meow," Kit assured him.

"Kit says the problem is much, much more serious than we realized," Captain Kindness said to them. "Kit says we're really going to need your help on this one!"

The Better World Kids assured him they were definitely up to the task.

"Alright Kit, let's check this out right away," Captain Kindness said determinedly.

Kit tapped away on the panel. The Kindness Cruiser locked into a hyperlink, and they rocketed down towards the Earth.


Chapter 3
Water, Water Everywhere,
But Not Enough to Drink …
(And not enough toilets, too)

As the Kindness Cruiser sped towards the Earth, Captain Kindness sighed. The Earth's beauty always filled him with such wonder. It was definitely near the top of his Top Ten Most Amazing Planets list. "I just don't see how there could be a water crisis…" he muttered. "More than 70% of Earth surface is covered by the oceans!"

"Meow," Kit reminded him.

"Oh yeah," Captain Kindness nodded. "You're right. I forgot humans can't drink salt water."

Kit meowed more somberly as he continued tapping the controls.

"That's terrible," the Captain gasped.

"What is it?" Erin asked and all the other Kids had the same question on their mind as they stared out at their beautiful home planet rapidly approaching.

"Kit says that nearly a billion people on Earth don't have access to safe, clean drinking water!"

Ahmed had found some statistics on his laptop, too. "This says that two-and-a-half billion people don't have toilets, either…!" he said unbelievingly.

"Meow," Kit added slowly. It was painful to say.

Their favorite superhero was heartbroken as he translated: "Every day 4000 children die because of lack of water or diseases caused by unsafe and contaminated water..."

Everyone was sadly silent in the last few moments before they burst through the atmosphere and sailed over the Earth's surface.

"Oh, look, we're flying over the Indian Ocean…" Sunanda exclaimed. "India is just up ahead…"

In another instant they were flying over a tiny rural Indian village. Below, a line of women and children were anxiously waiting at the water tap in the middle of their community, each holding several jugs and pails. They'd been waiting for hours because the water truck was late, again.

One young girl near the front of the line was especially nervous as she finally got to fill her containers. Hurriedly she turned and lugged them as fast as she could towards her home at the edge of the village. Today she had made sure she was very early in line. Last time there was only enough water left for one of her containers when it was her turn. Since the water truck only came every other day, her family had barely enough water to drink, let alone wash their dishes and bathe over the past two days.

The Kids all wanted to help the girl carry the heavy buckets of water, so Captain Kindness gently landed the Cruiser beside her.

At first the girl was frightened; who wouldn't be scared if a spaceship suddenly landed in front of them! But when Sunanda spoke to her in Hindi, the girl smiled. She told them her name was Anjali, and she was so thankful for their help.

But then suddenly Anjali's face was filled with panic again. "I've been waiting in line for hours and I'm going to be late for school again!" Anjali explained. "We have no water left at all, and I'll have to make a second trip…" she sighed. "Last time I was this late, Teacher punished me by making me spend half the day outside the classroom." Anjali started crying. "I'm getting so far behind in my studies…"

"Come on, we'll give you a ride," Sunanda said comfortingly.

In a flash they brought Anjali and her water buckets back home. When they got there, Kit filled some other containers with fresh water reserves from the Cruiser so that she wouldn't have to make a second trip."

"Thank you so much," Anjali said a little more happily. "But I still have to get to school. It's in the next village, and by now class has already started…"

"Not a problem!" Captain Kindness assured her.

Anjali was so excited when they gave her a ride to school in the Cruiser, but she was still very worried that she'd be late. What a surprise it was when it turns out they arrived at the school before any of the other children! The Cruiser had soared so much faster than the speed of light that time had gone backwards!

The Kids couldn't believe it. "Elementary physics," Captain Kindness assured them.

"Thank you so much!" Anjali said as she waved goodbye. Her friends were just arriving and they couldn't believe their eyes. They all gathered around Anjali to hear her story about flying in the strange spaceship as the Cruiser rose up into the air and rocketed off into the distance.

They flew over many countries like Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya and Ethiopia. And everywhere they went they saw the same thing - women and children travelling long distances to carry heavy buckets and jars and jugs filled with water, day in and day out.

Finally, they reached a village in Ethiopia. Women and children were getting their water from a shallow pond that oxen were standing in, drinking too. Kit sighed sadly. "Meow," he told them.

Captain Kindness shook his head. "That just doesn't seem right," he sighed. "Oh," he said looking up at the Kids who were waiting for him to translate. "Women and children around the world spend 200 million hours a day collecting the daily water they need for their families. And look, it's often from shallow wells and unprotected ponds and streams like this one that are easily contaminated."

The Kids shook their heads in disbelief, too.

"Surely somebody's doing something about this, right?" Captain Kindness asked with tears in his eyes.

"Meow…" Kit piped up.

"Oh…" Captain Kindness said with a hint of a smile. "Kit's got some more hopeful things to show us, now…"

"Well it's about time!" José exclaimed. "Come on Kit, water you waiting for?" he added hesitantly.

José was starting to feel more than a little discouraged. This was the third time he'd tried the same pun and still no one had noticed! But then in another instant they were soaring into a hyperlink, and he, like all the others, held on and enjoyed the exciting cyber-rush roller-coaster feeling that hyperlink-jumping always gave them.


Chapter 4
An Agenda for the Earth

As the Cruiser descended through the clouds and coasted over the ocean, the Kids saw that they were heading towards the coastline of a bustling city.

"Meow," Kit declared.

"Rio de Janeiro!" all of the Kids exclaimed at once.

"Wait…You can all understand Kit-talk now?" Captain Kindness exclaimed. He was very surprised.

The Kids laughed and pointed up ahead at a landmark all of them had recognized immediately. High up on a hilltop overlooking the city they saw the giant, unmistakable Christ the Redeemer statue. It was so famous that even Captain Kindness remembered seeing it in his Intergalactic-History books from when he was their age.

"Meow," Kit pointed out as they sailed past the statue and approached a large crowd gathered around a stage of speakers.

"This is early June, 1992," Ahmed said. "We're here for the Earth Summit." Everyone assumed he'd gathered that information from his laptop, but his laptop was on stand-by. The truth was he was starting to understand everything Kit said!

"Meow," Kit confirmed.

The Cruiser floated over the crowd of women, men and children from many different countries. They were all paying close attention to the speakers. Some were waving their nation's flags. A huge ball was being batted around over the crowd. It was a giant globe, painted with the oceans and continents of the Earth. Some of the kids in the crowd looked up at the Cruiser and waved.

"Meow," Kit pointed out.

"Kit says that this is when the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development took place. That's the official name of the Earth Summit. More than 150 nations came together for discussions, to make plans and to sign treaties. Almost 120 Presidents and Prime Ministers were there! It was a major step forward for the world to work together to address serious environmental problems like global climate change, alternative energy sources, protecting animal and plant species and the lack of safe, fresh drinking water…"

"These look like ordinary people like us," Ling pointed out as they reached the edge of the crowd and headed toward some buildings.


"That's right. Kit says that whenever the United Nations holds major world conferences about a particular issue, government officials aren't the only ones to attend. NGO representatives are also invited to participate… Uh…But wait, what's a 'ngo'? Sounds like we're missing a vowel or two?"

"Non-governmental organization!" Jamal said first, with several of the other kids chiming in.

"Oh. Okay," Captain Kindness said. "Well, apparently civil society's participation at UN events really started here at the Earth Summit. Nearly 20,000 people gathered for the NGO Global Summit that took place at the same time. They wanted to really make sure that the people's concerns were heard. Since then, these parallel summits almost always take place, and civil society has a much greater voice at the 'official' meetings, too."

They had reached one of the buildings and the Cruiser hovered outside a large window. Peering inside they saw a huge crowded hall, where men and women in suits or in formal native dress listened intently to the speaker on the stage.

"This must be where the world leaders hung out," José observed.

"Meow," Kit confirmed.

"That's no world leader speaking!" Michiko declared pointing to the young girl who was addressing the room.

This time Ahmed did the web-research. "That's twelve year old Severn Suzuki from Canada," he told them. "Wow, look at this youtube video about her speech here. It's got millions and millions and millions of views. It's called The Girl Who Silenced The World For 5 Minutes."

Ahmed raised the volume on the video so that they could hear it. The Kids blinked when they heard her voice in stereo, because the girl on the stage was at the same place in her speech as in the video.

"If you don't know how to fix the environment, please stop breaking it!" the two Severns were saying.

The audience was completely silent, but when she finished her speech there was a roar of applause.

The Cruiser inched along to another window where they peeked in on another day at the conference. Inside they saw Heads of State and delegates and other Earth Summit participants signing their names on one of the walls in the large room. At the top of the wall they saw large green letters that spelled out EARTH PLEDGE, and beneath it they read together what everyone was promising to do:

"Recognizing that people's actions toward nature and each other are the source of growing damage to the environmental resources needed to meet human needs and ensure survival and development, I PLEDGE to act to the best of my ability to help make the Earth a secure and hospitable home for present and future generations."

The Earth Pledge was definitely something all of the Kids believed in. "We want to sign it," they whispered.

"Meow," Kit agreed.

"Me, too!" Captain Kindness declared and he proudly led the way as they stepped through the window.

When they were done and were climbing back into the awaiting Cruiser, Kit explained that an important document called Agenda 21 was created at the Earth Summit. It outlined specific goals that world leaders and civil society wanted to achieve in the approaching 21st Century in order to conserve the environment and reduce poverty while protecting the earth.

"It's also where the idea for World Water Day was presented!" Ahmed added.


"That's right," Captain Kindness translated. "The world started observing it on March 22 the very next year! Since then World Water Day has become an important date to raise awareness about this serious global issue of the lack of clean, safe drinking water for all!"

"Meow!" Kit announced.

"Kit wants to show us some of the World Water Day celebrations over the years," Ahmed translated before Captain Kindness could get the words out. He smiled and patted Ahmed on the shoulder.

"Meow," Kit added.

"But first, hang on. We've got to witness another important pledge the world agreed to…" Ahmed and Captain Kindness translated together.

Kit tapped the controls. In a flash they zipped along a hyperlink and emerged over New York City. The Kids spotted a familiar building in the distance and quickly realized they were heading for one of their favorite places: the United Nations.

The Cruiser coasted up to the Visitor's Entrance and hovered near the back of the long line. Someone turned and noticed the strange spaceship and screamed. Like a rippling row of dominoes, shrieks and gasps spread all the way up the line. People dashed, darted and dove into the courtyard.

The Guards at the entrance were shocked at first as the spacecraft floated up to the front of the now empty line. But when they saw the Kids peeking out of the spacecraft's windshield, smiles spread across their faces; the Better World Kids were welcomed and frequent VIP visitors at the UN. "Come on in!" the guards waved.

Captain Kindness tilted the Cruiser sideways so it could fit through the metal detector, and in they sailed. The Guards waved with a chuckle. The spaceship glided along the maze-like corridors until they reached the lobby outside the General Assembly Hall.

The Guard at the door stood frozen in place with his mouth hanging open as he stared at the spaceship hovering beside him. But then he saw the Kids waving and he relaxed and laughed nervously. "You Kids always make such a grand entrance. Last time you came on a giant flying eagle… and I heard that one time you arrived aboard a giant golden crane!"

The Kids giggled.

"Well, are you coming in?" the Guard asked.

"We're only here for a quick peek. If that's okay?" Captain Kindness told him and held a badge (which had mysteriously appeared on a chain around his neck) up to the windshield.

The Guard shook his head amusedly as he checked the badge through the glass. He shrugged before he opened the door.

Peeking in, the Kids immediately recognized that they were back in September 2000 at the special Millennium Assembly. They'd been here before and they knew it was a very important gathering to discuss goals and plans for the whole planet to work together for a better world in the New Millennium. They'd arrived right in the middle of discussions about the Millennium Development Goals - a significant set of milestones that all nations agreed to work together to achieve.

The Speaker was just outlining Goal Number Seven about achieving environmental sustainability. They listened as the audience applauded after hearing the part about the pledge to cut in half the number of people without access to clean water and proper sanitation.

"Hmm…" Captain Kindness sighed. "This was a long time ago, but your planet still has a long way to go to achieve that goal!" he said to the Kids. He forced a smile and turned to his co-pilot. "Well, let's see some of those Water Day celebrations now, Kit."

Kit tapped on the controls and Captain Kindness looked down at the Guard at the door. "Thank you," he saluted and the Cruiser disappeared down a hyperlink.

The Guard shook his head. He was fairly new here at the UN and was still trying to memorize everything in the training manual. "They've really got to update that manual," he mumbled. "They never prepared me for stuff like this!"


Chapter 5
So Many Ways To Help

The Kids jetted back and forth through cyberspace and cybertime peeking in on all kinds of workshops and conferences, meetings and water celebrations. They danced and sang at concerts, and joined in walkathons and community gatherings. They took part in candlelight vigils and helped plant peacepoles that shared the message, "May Peace Prevail On Earth!" They bought cookies and cupcakes at bake sales to raise money for organizations working to bring clean water and sanitation to poor neighborhoods. They painted their thumbs blue and posted pictures of themselves holding up their thumbs on their Facebook pages to remind people about the water crisis. There were so many ways to bring communities together and help them think about the urgent water crisis all around the world.

Each year World Water Day celebrations featured a different theme, and worldwide celebrations were organized by the UN Agency that dealt with that particular issue. The Kids were amazed at how interconnected the water problem was with so many other issues that people were trying to fix. Each of the Kids found that they had a particular favorite World Water Day theme.

Sunanda and Maya's favorite was 1995's Women and Water theme. They learned that when women don't have to waste so much of their days fetching water from very distant places, they have time to improve their lives. They are able to get jobs that bring in income to make life better for themselves and their families. Young girls don't have to miss time at school and can get the education they need for a brighter future.

The Water and Cities themes in 1996 and 2011 opened Michiko's eyes to the urgent problems that many large cities around the world face in keeping up with their residents' growing needs for safe, clean drinking water.

Jamal thought 2004's Water and Disaster theme pointed out how overlooked access to water resources was when people deal with natural disasters like tornadoes and floods and droughts.

Ling and Johnny were amazed by 2006's observance of Water and Culture. They never realized that various cultures around the world looked at, used and celebrated water so differently. They were awed at how large a part water played in various religious ceremonies. They were fascinated when they saw just a glimpse of the many ways water has been portrayed in paintings, music, books and movies.

José thought that 2008's focus on Sanitation was something everyone should know about. The Kids figured he was going to make a joke that was sure to include something about 'Number Two'. But for once he was serious and simply said he thought that everyone should know that one out of three people in the world don't have a toilet. "We've got to do something about this!" he insisted.

Erin was a vegetarian and 2012's focus on Water and Food Security really meant a lot to her. She'd never realized how much water it takes to grow the foods we eat. It takes 200 gallons of water to grow a pound of wheat, which she thought seemed like a lot at first. Until she saw that it takes 2000 gallons of water for a pound of meat. She never liked to preach about her decision to be a vegetarian, but she smiled when she discovered that her choice was actually helping to conserve water. What she did decide she was going to talk about when she got home was how much perfectly good food people waste. Not only are they wasting food, but they're wasting all the water it took to make that food, too! By convincing supermarkets and restaurants to donate their excess food to soup kitchens and food banks, they'd also be helping to save water for the planet!

Ahmed and Sol both thought that 2014's focus on Water and Energy was one of the most important themes. None of the Kids had realized how closely connected water and energy were. Water is needed to produce nearly all of the energy sources people use for electricity, to heat their homes, run their cars and power their MP3 players and cell phones. And energy is needed to extract, treat and deliver water for us to use. When we save energy we're also saving water, and when we save water we save energy.

"Whenever we work to conserve one of them…" Ahmed started to say to the Kids.

"We're really solving two problems," Sol finished.

"Two for the price of one!" they said together.

Everyone laughed. Even José. But the truth is he was a little jealous, because no one had laughed at any of his jokes today.

As much as the Kids enjoyed seeing the many ways people got the word out, what really moved them was seeing how people were solving the problem.

In their travels they learned about a lot of different organizations that were helping lead the way to making sure that everyone has clean drinking water. Like Charity: Water which has helped more than 2.5 million people by funding more than 6000 projects around the world to dig or fix wells or put in place other water sources like systems to capture rainwater for drinking.

Many of the places they saw people helping were through UNICEF projects. They already knew that UNICEF was the United Nations Children's Fund, but they didn't know that UNICEF works in 90 countries to bring drinkable water and sanitation to schools and communities by providing funding for things like drilling wells, installing water pumps and providing water filters. It also helps educate about the importance of washing with soap to reduce the spread of diseases.

The Kids were so excited to find out about the UNICEF Tap Project event that takes place during the week around World Water Day. Restaurants help raise money for the Tap Project by asking diners to donate $1 to UNICEF for the tap water they are normally served free. The Kids couldn't wait to ask their favorite restaurants to get involved when they got back home.

In a small village in Kenya the Kids learned about Water.org's WaterCredit program. A young boy named Joseph proudly showed the Kids the outhouse his family had just built, thanks to a small loan they had gotten through the program. The Kids had never imagined someone could be so excited about having a toilet, but this was the first time Joseph's family didn't have to be embarrassed every time they had to find someplace at the edge of town just to go to the bathroom.

Finally they had reached their last stop. It was the very same village in India where they had met Anjali. Peering down from the Cruiser the Kids saw her and her friends looking on as their parents were digging a well in the center of their community that Water.org had financed. Just then Anjali and her friends looked up and noticed the spaceship. They waved and they looked so happy that the Kids were filled with a huge surge of hope.

The Better World Kids suddenly felt that tingly feeling they always got just before they were somehow magically transported back to their homes all around the world.

"Meow…" Kit said a little sadly from the control panel.

All of the Kids understood immediately. "We're going to miss you, too, Kit!" they exclaimed and hugged their favorite robo-cat.

"Yes, Kit and I have to get going too," Captain Kindness sighed as he hugged the Kids. "Kit's just gotten an urgent call for help from a planet in a constellation three galaxies over…"

"But we'll see you again soon, right?" Ling asked and all of the other Kids hoped so, too.

"Absolutely!" Captain Kindness declared.

"Meow!" Kit promised.

Before they said their final good-byes, Captain Kindness wanted to go over one last time all of the things the Kids were going to do to help when they got back home.

"There are so many ways we can 'Do One Thing for a Better World!" Michiko exclaimed.

"And together we make a world of difference!" Ling added.

"First of all I'm going to make sure I don't waste water…" Jamal declared.

"Yeah, I'm going to make sure I don't let the water run when I brush my teeth," José promised. "I forget sometimes."

"Don't forget, no more disposable plastic water bottles," Johnny reminded everyone.

"And I'm going to save water by conserving energy," Ling promised.

"Yeah, I often forget to turn off the lights when I'm not using them," Michiko admitted.

"And I'm going to raise a lot of money for Water.org!" Sol insisted.

"And Charity: Water, the UNICEF Tap Project, and Water Collective, too!" Ahmed added.

"I'm going to urge all my Facebook friends to get involved!" Sunanda said.

"We'll do stuff all year round, but we'll also plan something really cool for World Water Day!" Erin declared.

The Kids had a lot more ideas about what they could do. But it was getting late.

"Meow," Kit said.

"So water you waiting for?" Captain Kindness translated.

Everyone laughed. Everyone except José. "Hey! I've been saying that exact same thing this entire adventure!" he complained.

"Water you talking about, José?" the Kids all laughed just before the meeting was adjourned. Until the next adventure with the Better World Team, of course.


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© 2014 Robert Alan Silverstein
Better World Kids illustrations by Vineet Siddhartha



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Better World Kids header by Vineet Siddhartha