One of the most significant humanitarian issues of our era is extreme poverty. More than 1 billion people on our planet live on less than the buying power of $1.25 per day. Imagine what it would be like to live in the United States on less than $500 per year. You probably wouldn’t be driving a car, and you might be living in a house—if you were, you probably wouldn’t be able to pay utilities.
It was because of this deep need in our world that a new and innovative nonprofit was formed: Nuru International. Nuru is a Kiswahili word that means light and has a connotation of hope among much of sub-Saharan Africa. Nuru International works to help communities living in extreme poverty to lift themselves out of extreme poverty in a period of five years or less. The organization also works here in the West to engage more people to enter the fight and join our efforts to end extreme poverty. We believe this is the greatest humanitarian need of our generation, and that many other evils are directly related to the issue of extreme poverty.
One of the biggest opportunities for engagement, empathy and inspiration happens in mid-April. It’s called “Be Hope To Her” (BH2O+). The event itself involves an experiential journey into the daily routine of millions of women and girls in the developing world. It culminates in a solidarity walk where you as a participant, walk with a five-gallon bucket through your town to a water source, where you get to stand in line and eventually fill your bucket with five gallons of water that you will carry to another location in your town.
So what is it all about? In essence, it’s an event about being hope. More than 2.4 billion people go daily without nearby access to safe, clean, drinking water. Women and girls in these communities are usually charged with the task of gathering the water for their families as a daily practice. Imagine spending three hours of your day gathering water so you and your family can have it to drink, to bathe, to do laundry, to wash dishes. Imagine if that water were contaminated and needed boiled before anyone could drink it. Imagine not being able to attend school because you had been charged with this task for the sake of your family’s survival. It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, you can be part of the generation that stands up and says enough is enough, and chooses to make a difference.
Recently, I was reading a blog from our water and sanitation program manager, Nicole Scott, that talked about how life has changed in Kuria since the drilling of wells in the community. One of the stories told was about kids at one of the schools where the wells were drilled. The teachers said that the kids are playing now instead of running into the bush to try to find water during recess. This statement really hit me personally. I started thinking back to elementary school and recess. I can remember running, playing football, tag, and kickball, and just all around having a good time with friends. I remember running myself into a frenzy knowing that at the end of recess, everyone in my class would line up at a water fountain (I think the fountain was in my classroom too), and get a drink of water before settling back into class. What would it have been like if there were no drinking fountains in my school. What if my recess was spent looking for any water source near the school? What would my concentration level have been like in the classroom? It seems utterly unthinkable that anyone in the modern era would have to deal with this on a daily basis.
We believe that together we can end extreme poverty. We believe that together we can pioneer solutions for whole communities to not only have convenient access to safe, clean drinking water, but to lift themselves out of extreme poverty for good.
Last year, Nuru International hosted its first BH2O+ event. Nearly 1,000 people participated on 11 college campuses, and raised over $36,000. This led to the drilling of four deep water wells in Kuria, Kenya and thousands of changed lives.
This year, we are pleased to announce that there are 23 colleges who are participating in the event (including one in Florence, Italy). We also have three city-wide events happening in SoCal, Seattle, and Pittsburgh.
The first thing you can do is register for the event. This event is going to take place in a variety of locations across the country, so chances are you live fairly close to one of the locations (and if not, road trips are always fun—especially those with a greater purpose!).
Then, invite your friends, relatives, coworkers and classmates to get involved. (What’s a road trip without friends?) We truly believe we can end extreme poverty, together, one community at a time, and we will work faster and more effectively as we have more people involved in this work. Imagine what it will be like to one day say that we were the generation who said enough is enough and ended extreme poverty. This goal is within our reach, but it is going to take more than a few getting involved. Be Hope To Her is a great “first step” for folks to take as they join us in this work.
After you have registered and started recruiting your friends to get involved, you can begin raising funds for your campus. Here are some helpful hints to some fundraising activities.
Taking a walk in someone’s shoes, or rather carrying their five gallons of water in your hands, will give you a new perspective on poverty. And you will be taking a tangible first step in the journey to be the generation that ends extreme poverty.