(Above: The local source of water for drinking, cooking and washing at Bobi refugee camp, northern Uganda.)
I write to you on layover in the United Arab Emirates. I leave Dubai in a few hours for one of the world’s poorest countries, Ethiopia.
I’ll be joining a freshwater drill rig in Ethiopia’s south, a modern steel monster providing desperately needed clean water for some of the country’s 77 million people. I was shocked at what I recently learned about Ethiopia. 57 million — that’s 76% of the population — don’t have access to clean water.
57 million without clean water I fight not to take for granted every day.
The millions draw water from fetid sinkholes and swamps they share with cattle — holes rife with disease, hopelessness. If that wasn’t bad enough, most walk hours a day to reach these sources, lugging contaminated 40-pound jugs back to their village.
We have been and will continue to ask you to do something about it.
I’ll be visiting one of the four Africa projects our charity: water initiative supports, this one run by the 4-star non-profit Healing Hands.
We look to fund 60 of their freshwater wells for starters, and are on the way. Each well pumps about a million gallons a year, supplying more than 2000 people daily with clean and safe drinking water. And they cost only $3500. Next week, I hope to bring you deep into the villages with still and moving images – to tell you the personal stories of those who need our help, and what that help looks like.
In the meantime, between planes, a recap of recent progress.
With the help of many of you — some who followed my long journey with Mercy Ships and some who I’ve just recently met — our non-profit, charity:, got off the ground quicker than I thought possible. In only a few months, we’ve raised some seed money to put charity: in business and developed educational and fundraising programs like the citywide water exhibition.
We’ve also raised more than $90,000 for wells in Africa through charity: water sales and pledges!
Many of you also visited the charity: water exhibition and tower that toured New York City parks in September and October — Union Square, Washington Square, Tompkin’s Square, Battery Park and finally, Central Park’s Columbus Circle.
With the help of more than 108 volunteers and on a shoestring budget, the water show educated and engaged more than 20,000 people and collected more than $19,000 in water donations and t-shirt sales! 100 percent of that money goes directly to provide clean water in Ethiopia, Malawi, Central African Republic and Uganda. Press and pictures here.
We’ve packed up the outdoor show for the winter but are planning a 12-city tour through America next summer. We’re also building committees that will help bring the effort to London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. If you live in a major city and want to be a part of the project, drop us a line.
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Water sales / Distribution. We’ve been talking with some of the world’s top fashion, spa, restaurant and hotel brands who will offer our $20 bottle of charity: water to their customers over the holiday season and in 2007, many even generously matching their customer donations. if you’d like more info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We want your company involved.
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Uganda update: The last time I wrote you from northern Uganda, I included pictures and a story about a camp where 31,638 refugees were literally dying of thirst. There was only one well there pumping water for only 2,000, forcing scores of refugees to search elsewhere, digging holes in the ravines and gullies. Many also gathered water from a brown pond nearby (see above image).
Thanks to your generosity and support at the NYC water launch event, we’ve already started helping the citizens of Bobi camp, drilling and rehabilitating five water wells there. I’ll post pictures and progress online in a few weeks. Thanks again to the 700 of you that bought charity: water at that event.
We hope to continue to give meaning to your gift as you see thousands of lives transformed.
And if you missed the last event, we’re planning another 750 person water gala in New York, mid-December.
More from Ethiopia next week….
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Please support us.
We need your financial support to serve. If you are in a position to support the efforts of charity:, please find giving instructions online here.
Want to volunteer? Email us: email@example.com
Want to tell a friend about what we’re doing?
Please do. And you can learn more information here: www.charitywater.org
Buy a case of water for your office.
C’mon, it’s only $480. We deliver free with volunteers in Manhattan. Do that by clicking here.
– Scott Harrison