I’ll wake up and head straight to the sink to wash the sleep off my face. My coffee will brew while I try to make myself look presentable for the day. By 5 p.m., my water bottle will remain, most likely unfinished, on my desk. A cup of cold ice water will greet me after my evening jog. I’ll take a shower to wash off the day and let the water run a bit longer than I should, just because it’s warm and relaxing.
There are 345 million people without access to clean safe water in Africa alone, nearly 72 times the entire population of the state of Alabama. Can I say that again? Seventy-two times Alabama’s entire population! We take water for granted about as much as we do air. If I went to wash my face and what came out of the faucet was brown and muddy, I’d be appalled! When filling the coffee pot, if I was met with gray uncertainty instead of clear liquid, I would definitely not be partaking of coffee that day. While we are blessed to live in the civilized world where clean water is readily available for most anyone, nearly 3.4 million people die each year from water related disease. WHO, the World Health Organization, said in 2008 that almost one-tenth of global disease could be prevented by providing clean water sources.
I’m a cause girl. It’s ingrained in my personality and I can’t help it. After I do my research as to the transparency of an organization, and if they meet my requirements, I’d be willing to fly halfway across the world to support them. Blood:Water Mission is one of those organizations, and I’ve been following them on social media for a while.
Clean Blood: Clean Water
Blood:Water Misson was started in early 2003 by the members of the Grammy Award-winning band, Jars of Clay. The bands’ members went to Africa in early 2000 and were blown away by the need they saw there. A Barna Poll was released around that time that stated only 3 percent of evangelical Christians were willing to help someone who was HIV positive and this prompted their desire to see first-hand what the need was and how they could help. Their name came from Dan Haseltine, the lead singer for the band, who wrote “blood:water mission” in his journal on his way back from one of their trips; the name means clean blood, clean water in Africa.
Blood:Water Mission isn’t solely focused on providing clean water to the millions who need it. They are also fighting the AIDS/HIV crisis in Africa as well. Nearly 24 million people in Africa are HIV- positive, and in 2011, nearly 1.7 million people died from AIDS. I know I am throwing around a lot of facts and numbers, but, short of going all ghost-of-Christmas-present on you, this is all we have. Needless to say, there are millions and millions of people in the world who are literally dying to have just a fraction of what we consider familiar and expected. I mean, one dollar will provide a year of water for someone in Africa — I am floored.
Through a selection process to determine which people and organizations they should partner with, Blood:Water Misson provides financial and technical support for their partners in Africa to implement life saving medicine and water wells. Blood:Water Mission looks for people or organizations that have a track record for making an impact in their area. Through grassroots efforts in the states, they are able to come along side their African partners to provide hygiene training, wells, and HIV clinics, among other things in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Rwanda.
Navigating Through the Blood:Water
Blood:Water Mission has the coolest website. Seriously, you need to check it out. There is a video infographic in the “How We Work” section of their website that’ll blow your creative-organizational mind! Their website is so organized, informative and easy to navigate, and I always appreciate an organization that can organize (pun intended). I was blown away with their passion for the people of Africa and their effective efforts in providing health — one well, water tank, and clinic at a time. Eight hundred nineteen thousand people have received clean water and 40 thousand people have received HIV-treatment because of the work of Blood:Water Mission and their supporters.
Growing Mustaches for Missions
Blood:Water Mission has no shortage of ways you can get involved. The only way they can support the Africans is for them to raise support domestically through grassroots community projects and donations. In mid-January, they implemented an online portal where people can start their own online campaign. These campaigns had already been occurring, but now they can be seen and shared as support is raised! You can have your own web platform by registering your creative campaign, deciding how much money you’ll raise, uploading photos, etc. Campaigns can range from 5K runs to bake sales, mustache growing parties to benefit concerts. The possibilities are endless; No- Shave November could provide wells all over Africa!
They are also currently recruiting “Community Starters” to volunteer in their local communities to put on events and host advocacy groups. These Community Starters will work with a liaison at the main office to maximize their efforts and output. But the most helpful way to help is through long-term giving. Blood:Water Misson is 100 percent donation-funded. Their Community Builders program has members who agree to pay $30 per month for long-term efforts in sustaining their mission in Africa. All of the proceeds go directly to benefit those in need. They provide hand pump wells, rain tanks at schools, and medicine for the HIV-positive. They also support and empower the delivery servers.
A Mocha a Day
Finally, my personal favorite project called “Save a Drink, Save a Life” is coming up at the end of February. Whenever you have a coffee or soda, you can use their app to match what you spent on that drink for clean water in Africa. Once you sign up, you’ll simply determine the duration of your campaign and keep a log of your beverages. It can be seven days or four weeks, whatever duration you feel comfortable to committing. What an excellent excuse to buy Starbucks! But in all seriousness, being mindful of our indulgence and how something so simple can provide so much really keeps life in perspective.
Now That’s My Kind of Party
Now, I know some of you think you are unqualified — but allow me to introduce you to Liv. She lives in Southern California and at the age of 9 or 10 decided to use all of her creative energy to raise money and awareness for Blood:Water Mission. At 10, I still had a unibrow and definitely didn’t know anything about the needs in Africa. She started “Philanthroparties” to get other kids her age involved and excited; they would use things like birthday parties and lemonade stands to raise money. Now, as a teenager, she continues to use her platform as an advocate in her school and neighborhood. Because of her determination, she has helped achieve 100 percent water coverage for a community in northern Rwanda.
No one is unequipped to help others. Like Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Blood:Water Misson is a small movement trying to do just that.