so I entered this contest for clean water…

Thank you for helping me make a difference for those in need of clean water!
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I write this post as part of a blog contest – “Why are you a change agent for clean water?” The winner receives $15,000 to give to their favorite water charity. For me, that is Water.org, where I’ve had the immense blessing of working at for more than two years. At Water.org, we can bring clean water to one person for life for only $25. If we can win this contest, $15,000 is enough to bring 600 people clean water for life!!! Also, I would win a trip with Dr. Greg Allgood of P&G on a clean water expedition to Africa.

Each time you vote, P&G will donate a day’s worth of clean drinking water (2L) to a person in need in a developing country. So all in all, a pretty cool. deal.

The scoop: limit one vote per person/email address per day. A voter may only use one email address to vote. It just takes a few seconds! The blogger with the most eligible votes as of 11:59:59 PM ET on 8/27/10…

My story below:

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Just as a farmer gently tucks a seed into the unknowing soil, so this whole thing began in my life.

As part of our five week preparation in the states, we spent an afternoon learning how to build a simple bio-sand water filter. The purpose was that we would be able to help our office in Manila, Philippines teach surrounding communities how to build and maintain them so they could have clean water.

Nate and I building the CAWST bio-sand water filter during our Convoy of Hope internship in Fall 2007.

That was three years ago. And I can say without hesitation that my life changed that day, as I learned how to build that filter. The thing was, those filters were only $30, completely sustainable, with little maintenance required, and could give a family, or school, clean water for life. I was surprised, and really excited – I felt like I knew so many people who would gladly give $30 to save someone’s life!

I came back from my semester-long internship and two-month trek to Southeast Asia with only one semester of college left. I began to research water organizations and see if there could be a fit with my talents and passions.

At the time, Water.org was “WaterPartners”, and as I combed their site, the fire within me burned with even more ferocity. I was extremely impressed with and drawn to who they were and how they worked. Raised a Missouri-girl, imagine my complete shock when I saw they were based in Kansas City, MO! Uncanny!

I’ll spare you the long version, full of some twists and unexpected turns [I’d love to share over coffee or drinks sometime :)], but basically I just moved up to KC,  got a serving job at a steakhouse, lived with my friend and her parents for free, somehow convinced WaterPartners to let me volunteer, and thought if it didn’t turn into a job eventually, I’d at least get some experience for my resume. I was going to take everything else as it came.

But here I am, a little over two years later, working full-time with the communications team at Water.org :) And this past February, I finally got to go to the field to visit our water and sanitation projects in Bangladesh! It was so amazing to finally meet the beneficiaries as well as those living in a community in need of clean water, to hear all of their stories, play with the kids, and see/capture the realities of their lives first-hand.

A young woman washes her dishes in the stagnant pond shared with animals by her slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Healthy kids collecting water at their safe water point in Salepur slum in Dhaka.

Sorry - hard to stomach, but their "toilets" in Board Guard slum, aka "unhygenic hanging latrines". These were right on the edge of their water source :/

Bithi, a 12-year-old girl in Salepur slum in Bangladesh who proudly showed me the hygenic latrine that her family has had for over a year.

I am continually humbled by the facts. I am often overwhelmed by the vastness and complexities of the problem, and then the number of people who have no idea it exists. I am saddened by those who could care less. I am inspired by the team I work with every day, by the communities we help who take the lead in their own projects. I am encouraged by people who contact me every week, wanting to help. I reminded regularly why I do this as I am moved to tears by photos and video of people without water, living in extreme poverty. And I am challenged each day with the greater task at hand.

But above all, I have a bursting hope. The past few years have taught me so much. I have learned that good, sustainable work takes a long time, patience, persistence, and dedication. I have learned the importance of doing something you love and believe in. I have learned that there are people all over the world who do care and are working to make the world better. I have learned that I absolutely don’t know what lies ahead. I have learned the transformation that comes with education. I have learned how much creativity and dreams of new ideas/visions/solutions is important to our sanity and lives. And above all, that when people get clean water and a toilet for the first time, these seemingly basic things are so very beautiful and life-changing in more ways than we even realize, because it is never just water or a toilet…it touches every area of our lives, here, and all around the world.

Trust me, I could go on :) But for now, I thank you for supporting me and sharing with me in this passion, and this opportunity to see a different continent and support the great work of Water.org.

NOW just maybe, in honor of this post, you should give your utility man a high five, your toilet a hug, and your glass of clean water a big-ole, unabashed french kiss ;D

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17 Comments on “so I entered this contest for clean water…

  1. Congratulations explodingsoul! You are evaluating and learning about life and differences that exist in the world. Many of these “differences” average people we all know and love in our own lives take for granted each and every day in “our world”. I am a small plumbing business owner/operator and love what you anr water.org are doing with your/others’ lives these days! Inspiration to us all to evaluate,help,and give thanks for all our everyday “differences”. Good luck in your incredible and inspiring future and Thanks Again for doing what YOU Do! Tim . sos.plumbing@att.net

  2. Water for everyone as a basic human right is such an important issue. Thanks for doing this and all you do !!!

  3. Erin, I hope you win! Today I’m actually doing a “no water for 12 hours” thing for our church staff’s small group that’s reading The Hole In Our Gospel. (It’s a great book!) Solidarity, sister!

  4. I enjoyed seeing your beautiful smiling face! Besides that, I am so impressed with what you are doing in your life! You are an inspiration. Good luck to you!

  5. Pingback: Water: We Take it for Granted | Exclaim: You're Alive!

  6. Pingback: Please help a former student of mine « Changing Journalism

  7. Erin
    We are so proud of you for the work you are doing! When i watched your video it brought tears to my eyes because i can tell how important it is to you to help get good water to those in need. Your a blessing to all you touch!! Love and hugs, Nehmers

  8. You are as passionate about clean water for people as I am about providing eye care to the same people. It amazes me the fire and passion God puts in each of us for different causes. Keep up the good work, and keep you passion and hope alive!

  9. I had to vote for you, your Auntie Linda told me to and you have a Boston Terrier….those 2 things alone get my vote!! Good Luck and keep up the good work!

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