Home » Haiti » World Water Day and Ramadan

A woman pumps water near Cap-Haïtien, Haiti (Photo by Alex Proimos via Wikimedia Commons).

Having recently arrived in Haiti, I have been thinking a lot about water, and how much I miss it! We have no hot running water here in our house, or even really running water at all, just a trickle from the faucets.

March 22 is World Water Day, and this year it is also the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of prayer and fasting. This year I appreciate them both more than ever.

World Water Day

I whine about not having a hot shower, but 75% of Haitians don’t have running water in their homes at all.

In a recent reflection, Pope Francis said that World Water Day “invites us to reflect on the value of this wonderful and irreplaceable gift of God. For us believers ‘sister’ water is not a commodity: it is a universal symbol and a source of life and health.”

Especially over this last little while, I have come to appreciate my “sister.”


Having lived in predominantly Islamic countries for most of the last 25 years, I have experienced Ramadan many times. Most of my Muslim friends and colleagues would tell me that not eating food during Ramadan from before sunrise to sunset is not so bad, but not being able to drink water for that long (sometimes more than 15 hours) can be very difficult, especially in the first few days of Ramadan.

It was not until experiencing at least 10 Ramadans that something big struck me. Most people who were fasting didn’t seem tired or down but actually happier than usual during that month. I asked a few colleagues about it. They explained that Ramadan is their favorite time of year, a time of great joy, partially because it’s a time when family and friends get together frequently to break the fast at the Iftar. Even more so it is a time of joy because they focus more on prayer, often praying even more than the normal five times a day.

I have a deep respect and appreciation for Muslims’ faith and dedication to prayer. Joining Maryknoll Lay Missioners, I was very happy to learn that joy is one of our core values. Even though there are no mosques in our town to remind me of Ramadan this year, I will try to take time each day during this holy month of Ramadan to remember my Muslim friends by embracing joy.

Susan Silveus
Susan Silveus joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2022 and has been assigned to Haiti.