The meaning of luck

Luck is an interesting concept.  We describe luck as a force that somehow shapes the outcome of events in our lives, but at the end of the day, none of us know what luck really is.  This doesn’t stop us from giving luck all the credit for monumental things that happen to us, though.  We might say, “It was luck that I won the lottery” or “how lucky that my husband and I met on a blind date so many years ago.”  But what if luck extended past these fateful circumstances and became intrinsically linked with our very survival?

This was the case for Bitewush, a woman from Burie, Ethiopia.  Despite her frailty in old age, Bitewush spent most of her days walking for miles to a nearby spring to collect water.  She remembers approaching the springs and having to join a queue of 30-40 other women, all who would feel lucky to make the journey home with a pot full of water for their families.

“We used to fight over queues,” Bitewush commented. “Young girls had to break each other’s clay pots when they fought over whose turn it was.”

Today, Burie’s luck has changed.  With the help of our delivery partners WaterAid and funding from Project Waterfall, Bitewush’s community now has two water taps in the centre of the village.  Local men and women in Burie also took part in building the water points, making the construction an opportunity to bring the community together.  Even older women like Bitewush helped to carry stones and sand to the construction site, while the more able-bodied lifted cement.

According to Bitewush, “Children of this generation are lucky.  They will wash before and after school. They use soap every time they wash.  They go to school clean and happy.  It’s a lucky generation.”

So what is luck really?  If we understand Bitewush’s reference to luck as the kind that comes by chance under unexpected and unlikely circumstances, we neglect all of the purposeful action that made the construction of the water points in Burie possible. 

We should think of luck as a feeling.  Luck is what we call our gratitude for the good things in our lives, and lucky is how we feel when we experience fortune that we could not achieve through our personal efforts alone.  Every step forward in solving the global water crisis cannot be attributed to chance or fate.  Instead, it will be attributed to our common understanding that water is a human right, and we are all lucky to have it.