campaign: Jerry Can Tattoo
raised: at least $2,135
has been fundraising since: Dec. 1, 2011
mission statement: “Any dollar you can donate will be a step towards a new life for those who don’t have the resources to break free of the chains they were born into. To honor this cause I will get a tattoo of a Jerry can on my right arm. I don’t have any other tattoos.”
If you’ve been to our recent events or stopped in our office, you’ve seen (or used!) our Jerry can temporary tattoos. Well, this fundraiser decided to do something that would last much longer — get a real (yes, permanent) Jerry can tattoo. We caught up with Michael about his vision for a tattoo and his mission to bring clean water to people in need:
When did you first find out that almost a billion people live without clean water?
I wasn’t fully aware about the current global water crisis until I found charity: water’s website. I did some work in amphibian conservation at Tree Walkers International which opened up my eyes to the importance of water management in the greater scope of the planet. After some online searching, I found charity: water’s website and learned more about another end of the spectrum.
How did you come up with getting a Jerry can tattoo to raise funds for clean water?
After checking out charity: water’s footage and reading about the work the organization does, I wanted to do something. I’m not at a point in my life where I’m able to make a large donation of my own or drop everything and move to these areas to help locally, so I decided to start a campaign. Getting a tattoo felt like a good way to honor the cause and draw attention to it.
This is your first tattoo. Are you nervous about getting it done?
It may end up being the only one as well. Any nervousness or reasons to not get it done are easily overcome by the reminder that at the end of the day, I have clean water to drink. And, if one day in the future that statement isn’t true, the tattoo will be the last thing I’ll be worrying about.
We’re curious about reactions to your idea… can you share some?
I’ve gotten all types of reactions, but they have always been positive. I think it’s been pretty clear with everyone I’ve spoken to that my decision to get a tattoo is my own way of honoring the cause. The conversations have revolved around the cause and making the point that it doesn’t take much to change another person’s life forever.
“Once you know what you’re fighting for, nobody can take it from you.”
I asked my coworkers to take a look and showed it to friends. I don’t have a large social network, so most of the time I’ve been talking about it with people I meet throughout the week.
Have you found something that really encouraged or motivated you in your campaign?
One of the people I told about the campaign was a friend who had done volunteer work for the Peace Corps in Rwanda for two years. He was glad to hear about the campaign and told me about his experiences. He said water was a huge problem and that it took whole families to fetch it for themselves. In the dry season the water pumps would sometimes be out for weeks and people would line up their Jerry cans and wait for hours. Sometimes, it would randomly come on in the middle of the night only to get shut off by the morning; which forced people to get water from a “slimy tiny water hole that the livestock used.” He mentioned that the problem is commonly overlooked because the victims don’t have a voice. That encouraged me to keep pressing harder with the campaign.
What advice would you give to others who are thinking of starting a campaign?
Don’t give up. Define your self through meaningful actions — meaningful to you. Follow your beliefs, but be open to change. Once you know what you’re fighting for, nobody can take it from you.