charity: water in uganda

Empowering Girls and Giving Time Back to Women

I had only the vaguest idea that women and girls all over the world are still spending many hours every day walking miles to bring water home in Jerry Cans and jugs.

I had no idea that with all the technology we have there were still many schools without running water and that this was the reason so many girls dropped out after puberty. Many girls are missing school for one week a month and falling behind and giving up on education. I had never put 2 and 2 together.

And even if I had known I would have felt helpless and hopeless…

Until now!

charity: water banner

Do you wish you could help but don’t know how?

Do you ever feel trapped by your job or your life situation?

Do you ever wish there was more meaning in your life or something you could do to make the world better? 

If you ever ask yourself if this is all there is to life, I have found something you might really like.

I enjoy my job but sometimes I feel like I am wasting my life on things that are not all that important just to survive, and my pay has not gone up in the last ten years in comparison to rents in Silicon Valley California. (That’s why I started my blogs and went back to school to learn about nutrition.)

I was feeling kind of down the other day, thinking along these lines when I got an email from one of my favorite motivational gurus, Mike Dooley from Totally Unique Thoughts (or Tut for short). It wasn’t his usual type of email. It was about a new campaign he had started with something called “charity: water” (always lower case with colon by the way).

I had received emails before from another company about charity: water and had dismissed them as just another fundraising drive that did little to help real people in need.

All these charity drives did was make people who wanted to help feel like they were doing something when nothing really changed for the people in need…

Or so I thought.

Photo of, girl in india getting clean water

I used to be jaded about charities but not anymore

When I was a kid my mom was a political activist and, with me in tow at age 5, joined the farmworkers for a 3-month march to the state capital back in 1966.

They wanted to change laws and working conditions and make life better for farmworkers. The results of this long battle have been mixed, and farmworkers still have a long fight ahead of them 40 years later.

Back in 1978 We marched for ecology and protested and demonstrated and now the planet is in even worse shape!

We fought for land grants for indigenous families in New Mexico in 1974, but they never got their land back.

We petitioned, and marched on and on and went to meetings. I would draw in the corner while mom hashed out the details of some activist event with the grownups.

As I got older, I found fewer and fewer charities and causes that seemed legitimate.B

But charity: water changed my outlook

I trust Mike Dooley, the happiness guru who sent me the email about this charity. He has never sent me anything that wasn’t legitimate, so I clicked on his link to charity: water…

 and I am really glad I did.

Charity: water is doing amazing things. At the time of this article they have built 29,725 wells in 23 countries using 100% of the funds that are donated for that purpose. (They have another set of private donors to pay their overhead.)

Charity: water banner

Wow! Here is finally a charity I can support without fear that they are not really helping. Or worse just giving people hope and then letting them down.

I had heard that funds from many charities were taken by government groups and that very little money or aid every got through to the people who needed help.

But charity: water is transparent. They are documenting every step of each project so you can check up and see how it’s going.

The beautiful photos and videos of smiling faces of kids all over the world made me cry from joy. I had not been so touched by actual hope in a very long time.

I never cry.

But now every time I watch one of the videos of these people getting a new well, I tear up out of happiness for them. I’m not making that up. It just feels so good to see something that actually works and helps people for a change!

I dug deeper and read field stories about the lives of the people who live in these isolated villages and how everything has improved once they got clean water close by.

Giving TIME back to women

One of my favorite stories is about Tencia, a woman about my own age who lives in Mozambique who is a single mom of six children. She was able to expand her bread baking business because she has enough water to grow more food and bake more banana bread. I felt her pride and satisfaction as if it were my own reading about her life. I could almost taste the delicious sweet loaves steamed in banana leaves as they came out of the pot

No more walking all day long for Tencia and her kids, no more fear of disease from dirty water and a lot more time for building her baking business. Tencia lost her husband to some kind of waterborne illness. They never found out what he had died of.

We can do something about dirty water!

It is hard to believe that there are so many women and girls like Tencia, who spend most of their day walking miles to collect water by hand carrying two heavy Jerry Cans or carrying water containers on their backs or balanced on their heads.

Over 600 million people like Tencia and her children live without clean water and must walk long distances every day to gather water. That is one in ten people on the planet! That means more waterborne disease and less time for education and other endeavors like growing food and baking bread.

Water is such a basic need, but Charity Water is really doing something about it in a systematic, sensible way.

charity: water banner

Scott Harrison the founder

The founder of charity: water is Scott Harrison. If you have time watch his keynote address. Scott used to be a party-boy nightclub promoter in NYC. But he turned his life around and created this amazing result using his skills for something good. WOW, inspiring!

Girls quit school early to help gather water

With all the technology advances it’s hard to imagine that there are still places like Tencia’s village where there are no carts with wheels to roll multiple containers of water back the five miles from a dirty water hole. But often there are not even shoes to wear walking for Tencia and her family to walk long distances every day.

Girls and women like Tencia are more likely to quit school early in life to carry water than boys and men who are more likely to finish school and get higher paying jobs and opportunities while females stay in the same old ruts.

This village is in an isolated area far from cities and resources.

Before Mike Dooley emailed me about charity: water I didn’t understand about women and girls in villages like Tencia around the world spending up to 8 or 10 hours a day hauling water back home often doing multiple trips per day. So, I pledged a monthly donation to his campaign and started my own.

Why is water so far from villages?

Many villages are in mountain areas where there are not a lot of choices for building and planting.

In the village of Meda Ethiopia where Letikiros Hailu lived there is no flat land to plant food near the water, she had to walk for hours and climb down a steep gorge to get water. They are still working on getting ways of water piped into this remote area.

Why don’t people dig their own wells?

Many places like Tencia’s village in central Mozambique, are in arid climates or places that need wells dug hundreds of feet deep by heavy, modern equipment and can’t be dug deep enough by hand.

In the village of Engreda India the people of the little village of spent most of their money on treating waterborne illnesses from the stream they used.
They did not have any money left to build a water system.

Then they got help from charity: water and their partner Gram Vickras.

Once they were given construction materials and the aid they needed everyone in the village worked hard for over a year building toilets and showers, breaking stone and laying pipe for their mountain well water system.

Why don’t people just move someplace with clean water?

It is different in every situation. For Tencia and her family this is her home and her ancestral land, and now she can afford build a bigger home and buy even more land to grow more vegetables, banana trees, corn and millet to make more bread.

If she had moved away from the land it could be even worse than struggling without a well. To go to urban areas to work can lead to a worse situation than before, especially with kids in tow. Jobs are not as plentiful in many countries as they are here in the US.

New dreams for kids to finish school

Now that they are getting wells many girls as well as their brothers, are thinking about becoming doctors, engineers, social workers, nurses, teachers, and scientists and raise the standards for their communities. Check out this inspiring video about career dreams of kids who have new wells.

These folks who need help are far from industrialized areas.

So, we have to reach out to them.

I don’t have much to give to charity; water at the moment, but I at least have access to $30 a month to support this cause. Any amount will do!

I feel fortunate that by accident of birth I live in a country with a pretty good infrastructure! I don’t have to risk cholera or dysentery or drink muddy water every day. I have electricity and a cell phone, and I bet you do too, or you wouldn’t be able to read this!

Share this post with others and let’s empower women and girls to go to school and do more with their lives. It will raise the energy of the whole planet. #BePartOfSomething.

Support my campaign to bring water to people who need it. Or start your own campaign or start a monthly pledge to charity: water.

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I'm a natural health writer and designer at mindbodycopy.com and mindbodyclarity.com and MindfulJoyful.com a creativity blog. I'm also a former Pilates trainer and sports massage therapist, currently working on my Plant-Based Nutrition certification.

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