The brain child of New York City photojournalist and night club promoter Scott Harrison, charity: water is a non-profit initiative based in NYC focused on bringing clean, safe drinking water to people of developing nations. Founded in 2006, it has to date helped fund 2,906 projects in 17 countries, benefiting over 1,277,430 people.
Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. Unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all disease and kill more people than all forms of violence, including war. We're working to change that.
--charity: water website
The brain child of New York City photojournalist and night club promoter Scott Harrison, charity: water is a non-profit initiative based in NYC focused on bringing clean, safe drinking water to people of developing nations. Founded in 2006, it has to date helped fund 2,906 projects in 17 countries, benefiting over 1,277,430 people. Overall, the organization has sent more than $10 million to developing countries as of February, 2010.
For Harrison, the path to charity: water began in 2004 when he committed eight months of his life to the poor and marginalized of Africa through volunteer service in Liberia, with Mercy Ships (the global charity organization founded in 1978 by Don Stephens and Deyon Stephens that operates the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world).
While in Liberia, Harrison was exposed to the harsh living conditions of the impoverished people. There he traced problems surrounding education, safety, and health back to the water, proving that 80% of all the diseases they encountered were attributable to unsafe water and poor sanitation. (Statistically, 4,500 children die every day around the world because of exposure to contaminated water.) Wanting to commit to a life of service, Harrison decided that the lack of clean water facing the poor of the world was something he could do something about it.
"When we went into villages, we saw people drinking from swamps," Harrison is quoted as saying. "It's water we wouldn't walk in, certainly not give it to our animals. And this is the water the children were drinking." Scott has since tapped into his vast network to get as many people as possible to support his cause.
The organization’s goal is to build wells or “catchment” projects in communities where there is no clean water, to bring clean water to 100 million people by 2020. (Each well produces approximately seven million glasses of clean water a year.) charity: water uses both mainstream and social media platforms to raise awareness, including annual galas and events arranged via Twitter. And to get the word out, charity: water has also created a moving public service announcement featuring actress Jennifer Connelly.
Money is raised in a number of ways, including the sale of $5 bracelets and $20 bottles of water-- which are sold not so much for the water, but the cause. The initiative has thus far received donations from 50,000 individuals. "For about $5,000, we can give anywhere between 400 and 800 people clean water, just by building a well," Harrison has explained. He has said that he doesn’t plan to stop his initiative until he has helped bring clean water to a billion people.
The organization currently has 12 full-time staff members, 20 interns, and more than 800 volunteers.
Thumb image via: http://www.charitywater.org/about/mission.php
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