It’s a new year, a fresh start, and I have many new goals.  And, with a new month, comes new learning, and our second charity of the month.  In case you missed it, my first Charity of the Month post was about an amazing organization created by my dear friend who lost her son to childhood cancer.  I encourage you to read about the Paxton Andrews Foundation here.  This month, we travel the globe with charity:water, an organization that has taught me so much about hard work, health, education, empowerment, and passion.  Clean water throughout the world is always a worthy cause.

 

Imagine you are a child, maybe one the same age as your child.  You are filled with hopes, dreams, goals, have a family who loves you and friends you love to play with.  Now imagine that instead of going to school to learn, play, and achieve those hopes, goals, and dreams, you have to walk hours per day in search of water.  And when you do finally find water, it is dirty, muddy, and full of disease.  But you still fill your bucket with that water and haul it back several miles to your village and your family.  It’s difficult to fathom, isn’t it?  

This is what many children and people around the world have to do.  About 1 in 10 people lack access to clean water; however, there is an organization hoping to end the water crisis in our lifetime.

 

Charity of the Month:     charity:water

 

The charity I chose to research this month is charity:water.  Since my blog is primarily geared toward parents engaging in kindness and community service with their children, this organization was one that stood out.  This organization

 

“brings clean and safe drinking water to people in need around the world, improving health, education, and opportunity – especially for women and children.”

 

Charity:water has funded enough water projects for 7 million people worldwide as of the writing of this post.  Their website is a wealth of information.  The videos, statistics, and stories posted on their website provide a very concrete, visual, and meaningful way to educate our kids about the needs of children in other parts of the world.  It is eye-opening to see how vastly different kid’s lives can be in other parts of the world, especially when
  1. they lack clean, easily accessible water.
  2. children and women have to walk several hours per day to get to and pump dirty water at the expense of their education.
  3. disease and death are commonplace due to unsanitary water conditions.

 

This organization is working to remedy that problem.

 

 Look for Little Helpers Charity of the Month: charity:water

 

Inspirational Stories as a Consequence of Clean Water:

 

The biggest factor that drew me to this organization was the uplifting and empowering stories of people in these communities.  It is incredible what men, women, and children are able to accomplish now that they no longer have to walk hours a day for water.

 

  • The story of the 15-year-old girl in Mozambique who is the PRESIDENT of the water committee in her town, not only shattering age but also gender stereotypes.  As stated on the website:
    • “15 years old. Female. None of it matters. Those things are trumped by Natalia’s education, confidence, and tenacity.  Natalia’s opportunities are promising for young girls in rural Mozambique. But they’re even more promising for the people in her community.”
    • Due to clean water being brought to her town, the time she used to spend getting water is now time she spends in school.  She wants to be the headmaster someday.
  • Or the story of the boy in Malawi who hauled water, standing up for equality in his town.  Hauling water is largely a female job, but this boy decided to work toward gender equality, lessen his mother’s burden, and in general work to make his town and country a better place.
  • In India, the story of Asharfi who inspired “the Pipeline” branch of charity:water which works to train local mechanics to maintain and fix pumps.  Because, what would be the point in installing clean water systems if they are not able to keep them flowing?  This man followed mechanics repair teams beginning at the age of 16 years old, taught himself to repair the wells, built his own tools, and began his own business from the ground up.
  • The Well Doctor in Malawi who has repaired 140 wells, while also working another full-time job, because, “In order for me to be where I am, someone had to help me.  In turn, I want to help others.”
  • Stories of children’s big dreams for their futures would not be possible without access to clean water.  Clean water means increased health.  Better health (and less time spent trying to gather water) leads to more schooling.  More education leads to opportunities.
  • There are so many more stories and videos from the field.  Check out Charity Water Stories for more.

 

My overall thoughts on charity:water:

 

These stories give us a positive view of fascinating and unique places and people all over the world.  Many charities tend to (whether it be intentional or unintentional) make it seem as though people in various parts of the world need “saviors.”   However, in these stories presented by charity:water, I felt the opposite.  This organization provides a view of people who are just like the rest of us, but due to their disadvantages, they needed help in order to reach their potential.

 

Another factor that drew me to them was the transparency of the organization.  This charity appears to be open and honest about their challenges, their business practices, their finances, and their programs.  Most importantly, 100% of public funding goes directly to the water projects in the field because private donors fund the operating costs.  Charity:water seems to meet all of the markers of a top charity.

 

One of the keys in aiding a nation, city, or town is that beyond “fixing” a problem, we need to educate and train those who will be responsible for overseeing its continued use and sustainability.  Could this charity have difficulty with sustainability?  Have they solved all of the problems associated with drilling wells worldwide?  Part of the challenge is the difficult terrain in more remote villages.  Another problem is training and providing staff to maintain and fix the systems when they break down.  Do we know how many wells are still running, versus those that are broken and not being maintained?  Maybe not, but I found evidence that this charity is putting programs in place to help with that:
  • Charity:water teams don’t leave an area with a newly dug well until a committee of town members is formed of those willing to take on the challenge of maintaining it.
  • The organization is attempting to train and organize groups of maintenance men who will help to keep the water systems running through their “Pipeline” program.
  • Part of this program involves installing sensors in the wells that allow the staff to see when a well has broken down.  This leads to faster and more efficient repairs when needed.
  • Admirably, this charity appears to put the power in the community members’ hands.  They aren’t simply leaving them in the dark, nor are they acting as “saviors” with the idea that the people of these towns are unable to maintain the wells themselves.  Instead, they are solving a problem and allowing the people to take pride and ownership in their newfound water source.

 

In conclusion…

 

If nothing else, read some of the stories with your kids, show them the videos, discuss what it is like to not have clean water running directly at your fingertips on a daily basis, and celebrate that there are people and organizations like this in the world willing to help and working to solve this problem.   I know there is value in that.

 

Spend time talking about the world with your little helpers.  Be grateful for all you have and offer support to those who have less.

 

Much love,

 

look for little helpers

 

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