Charity: Water Changing Lives
By Jahred Schmidt
September 15, 2008
With more than 1 billion people living in the world without something as basic as clean drinking water, people like Scott Harrison are much needed. Harrison, founder of Charity: Water. a nonprofit organization set on building wells for people in Africa, Bangladesh and India, has been busy lately. Charity: Water’s latest undertaking is the September Campaign, which is an attempt at maximizing donations in a short amount of time. September happens to be Harrison’s birth month, as well as the two-year anniversary of the organization, and for the entire month, Harrison and the rest of his crew are asking those born in September to forego gifts this year—following Harrison’s own lead, of course—and to, instead, ask friends and family to donate money to Charity: Water, which will go toward building wells in Ethiopia. Last year, just 92 people raised more than $150,000 for a well, providing clean drinking water to a hospital in Kenya. With 100 percent of the money going directly to the construction of 333 wells, the asking donation is $33. The hope is that by September’s end, Charity: Water will have raised more than $1.5 million.
In April, Harrison and Charity: Water visited towns and schools in Ethiopia. One school they came across was the Abenea School, where more than 1,400 children and students lacked clean drinking water. In a shocking short video, one can view the astonishing effects of having no clean water. Young children were bore horrible skin infections, some of which were unknown to the medical team on hand. According to the kids, many were lucky if they were able to wash themselves once a month. Upon seeing these unfortunate and avoidable living conditions, Charity: Water decided to make this the location of their first well.
Fast-forward to September 7, where already more than $400,000 has been raised in just over a week. With a crowd of 2,000-plus present, a celebration broke out as water—clean, fresh, healthy, livable water—spewed up from the ground, raining down on top of dirty, sun-dried heads.
Only two days later, this small Ethiopian community had banded together and constructed a fully operable water pump. Instead of hiring builders and professionals, Charity: Water taught the necessary skills to men in the town, equipping them to do everything on their own. With the final touches in place, men, women and children spent hours at the water pump, taking turns drinking, washing and splashing one another. Now, young women can go back to school instead of spending hours every day walking miles to a dirty water hole. An entire community of people can look forward to extending their lives beyond the current 41-year average life span.
Charity: Water is 100 percent nonprofit, which means that every dollar given to them goes directly toward building a well. In some places, a simple hand-dug well will suffice, costing $4,000. However, other places, such as Abenea School, required a much deeper well, as well as 16 bathrooms, costing a total of $28,000. Every new well will be available for viewing via satellite so that donors can see the progress being made, as well as the joy that something as small as a $33 donation brought about. To put things into perspective, here are a few common, everyday items that cost roughly $33:
•One Blu-Ray Disc DVD ($29.95)
•Three-Pack of plain T-shirts from American Apparel ($39)
•Full tank of gas for a fuel-efficient Toyota Prius ($43 in California)
Regardless of the cost, Charity: Water is steadily seeing more and more donations come in as the word is spreading. With September still relatively young, Harrison’s goal of $1.5 million is still within reach. With a simple click of the mouse, and a minute’s worth of information, you too can help bring clean water to our friends in Ethiopia. Clean water is for more than drinking—it allows for healthier eating, sanitary restrooms and an end to diseases that stem from a lack of cleanliness.In other words, it allows for less of this, and much more of this.