The Road That Changed Everything

Posted by admin | Posted in charity: water | Posted on 23-12-2013

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The most inspiring thing about working for charity: water is watching people get inspired. And I’d love to share an inspiring story with you.

I’d also like to make one important request: if you do feel inspired by this story, I’d love for you to share this Upworthy link of the story on your Facebook page.

It’s that simple, copy and paste this link to Facebook: http://www.upworthy.com/well-its-official-this-holiday-gift-idea-is-way-more-meaningful-than-everything-ive-got-6

And ask your friends to share this story:

The video is powerful, and the backstory is even more impactful. Here’s a note our content strategist Tyler sent around the office after he returned from the village you’ve seen above:

Hey Team!
There’s a full trip recap/presentation coming next Friday (Jamie has promised to re-create some local song and dance for you), but I wanted to give you a quick overview of our experience in Malawi in the meantime since that’s the story we’ll be sharing at charity: ball — which is fast approaching.

For those of you who don’t know, Jamie, Esther Havens (famed c:w photographer) and I spent five days camping and living inside a community in the middle of nowhere in Nkhoma last week. Two villages in particular — both who did not have clean water.

It was the same set of villages that Scott and Christoph visited a few months ago — located at least thirty minutes away from any form of electricity and cut off from the rest of the world by a ravine outside the community.

Not only was that ravine limiting access to schools and hospitals, but it was the only thing that prevented them from receiving clean water earlier this year when the village on the other side did… because there was no way for the drilling rig to get across.

That’s the story we wanted to tell. Because after that day, these people became determined. At least one person from every household spent two months carrying rocks and bags of sand to the ravine until they had created a passable road across it. It was the first time that clean water had ever seemed like a possible reality for them.

What we didn’t know before we got there was that they had already finished building the road and that the drilling rig would arrive during our visit. WHAT?! I know.

We wanted to show the people hard at work and make the correlation at charity: ball that just as this community was coming together to do this incredible thing, we could come together to help others like them. But this news changed our story (in the best way possible).

Instead we get to show the result of that work… a convoy of trucks driving down the road in the distance, drilling rig at the front… people running down the hill at the sound… the rig rolling right over that bridge and into the community.

People sang and danced all day long. Waiting and hoping for clean water. We talked to women who were skipping chores because they didn’t want to miss anything. The entire community was there… waiting eagerly outside the ropes as drillers put pipe after pipe into the ground. 20 meters. 30 meters. 50 meters. Hours went by. And just as they were about to give up, water finally bubbled up from the ground.

Prior to this day, women had been getting water from a hole next to the river — a source they often had to share with pigs. They were walking to this place four to five times a day and often waiting in line. When that hole ran dry, they had to sit and wait for it to slowly refill.

But having clean water for them wasn’t just about saving time and work. And it wasn’t about better health. To them, water was a symbol of progress. Independence. Life.

When that moment came, the people in this village came charging past the ropes to the drill, and the drillers let them have it… flushing the pipe over and over again, shooting water into the sky so they could dance and sing in the rain.

I can’t even say what that was like.

One of the most important parts of working here, for me, is changing the way people think about charity and giving. But this moment was all about water. It has never been so clear to me how much water impacts lives. Freaking emotional is what it was.

Really, the entire week was emotional. There’s something very special about these people. They way they live. Their generosity. Their spirit. They welcomed us in instantly — not as people who were paying for them to have clean water, but as guests in their community. They shared hard stories and spoke over and over again about things like forgiveness and service.

As we drove away on Friday, the women lined up and sang once more. I asked our driver what they were singing, and he said, “It’s a song of appreciation. They’re saying it’s bittersweet — that you are like morning dew because you were here and you were beautiful and now you’re gone.”

Bring tissues to the presentation next week. That’s all I’m saying.

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