Hello SOTGC community,
Today it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Ms. Sarah Evans, the amazing Founder of Well Aware, which is a non-profit organization that provides innovative and sustainable solutions to water scarcity and contamination in Africa.
I met Sarah through one of our wonderful SOTGC Contributors who told Sarah about SOTGC and when she re-tweeted one of my tweets, I looked up her organization, and immediately asked to dialogue more about her company. A couple weeks later and I was on the phone with Sarah learning all about this amazing woman and humanitarian.
What Sarah wants the women of SOTGC to know about following their passion and helping others:
I feel very grateful that I was able to scare up the courage to take a leap and go where my heart was guiding me. It wasn’t easy. Nothing that you truly value ever is. In addition to the bumpy and unpredictable path I walked, it was also against my nature to jump into unchartered waters with such wild abandon. But here I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While I’m no expert on career change, I can offer my own experience. And, through my journey I’ve learned that there is no greater reward in life than doing something meaningful to help someone else, regardless of how you may be judged, and despite the obstacles you may face (without being unhealthy or hurting others, of course). And, I think this can be done on many levels. Some of us choose to be terrific moms, some of us lead food drives for the homeless on the weekends. Some of us take care of our elderly family members or friends, and some of us lead organizations to raise awareness for important causes. Both loud and quite philanthropy are important, and I believe we’re all hard-wired as human beings to want to help others. I’ve worked with so many people who had a void in their lives and have successfully filled it with charity or generosity.
Those of us working in philanthropy also find that we are blessed with greater gratitude. Maybe because, through our efforts, we are gifted a clearer perspective of how truly fortunate we are compared to those we serve; and maybe, too, because we feel appreciation for the part we get to play, no matter how small, in making the world a better place.
A little about Sarah: (Click on this link for the full interview done with Maria Shriver)
I’m an unlikely executive director of a nonprofit organization that provides clean water to east Africa.
In 2006, I started a nonprofit called Well Aware to help a friend get water to her father’s village in Kenya. I was asked to help raise funds for their dying animals because they had no water. I insisted that the real solution was a plentiful source of water, and I set out to learn how to drill a well.
Driving out to our drilling location on that hot Tuesday morning in the-middle-of-nowhere, Kenya, and stepping out of our van onto the ground to see the drilling rig that was already shaking the earth, was surreal and exhilarating. The local Maasai were gathered around to watch, and the children shyly approached us to stare and interact. But what they wanted most of all was our water.
There was no clean water for kilometers in this village. Many of the children were ill from the contaminated sources they used, and the school was poorly attended since the kids were sick or walking all day to bring water home.
There was one child who took a special liking to me. She followed me around most of the day, and I held her a lot of the time while she twisted my hair and rubbed at my skin. She was six years old, but she looked about three and weighed what a two-year-old might.
I will never forget how her faced changed when she saw the clean water shooting from the pipe during the pump test. It was awe and curiosity with a quizzical skepticism. I tried to tell her that this was going to be her water, and I think she understood.
As soon as we got the go-ahead to taste the water, I filled up an empty bottle from our van and brought it back to her. I held her in my arms while she tipped the big bottle back and drank the whole thing in what seemed like a few seconds.
And, when the bottle left her lips, her eyes met mine, and they sparkled with joy. I held her tighter and felt hot tears drip down my face.
It was at that moment that I knew my purpose was this. I opened my heart to the devastation and pain that not having access to water causes, and I set my mind to solving the problem and eliminating suffering, one baby girl at a time.
About Well Aware
We fund and implement life-saving water systems to drive economic development and build self-sufficient communities.
At Well Aware, our responsibility to the communities in which we work goes far beyond the drilling of a hole. More than 60 percent of existing water wells in Africa currently do not work. Our water systems work and they last because of realistic and responsible planning and collaboration. And, our partner communities are thriving as a result.
Well Aware conducts regular evaluations of all completed projects, but most of our partner communities no longer need us.
Some Hard-To-Face Facts About Water:
- Lack of clean water precludes any community development.
- But, for every $1 Invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity. (World Health Organization)
- Women spend an estimated 200 million hours collecting water every day.
- But, providing clean water instantly enables women to spend time on income-generating jobs, caring for family, and going to school.
- Kids lose more than 400 million school days each year due to water-related illness. (United Nations)
- But, when water becomes available at school, attendance dramatically improves.