Charity: Water

David McCoy, 16

The bus, crowded with forty or so rowdy middle-school kids, didn’t seem the best venue for conversation. But my best bud and I were sitting at the back of the bus, deep in discussion.

Our conversation stemmed from my claim that the citizens of the United States deserved open, free-of-charge Internet service across the continent. Mid-discussion, of course, I began to realize that even though public access to the Internet sounded pretty great, I had no grounds to complain when other more basic needs weren’t being met in our country or in the world.

car1-2Then our discussion took a different turn: What were the most basic needs that everyone has? Were they being met? Clean air was the first and most obvious need; everyone needs air. That need was mostly met, at least in the sense that everyone has air to breathe, though it may not be clean. Next, we looked at water. Was everyone in the world getting water?

Even though we went on talking, the idea of water as an unmet basic need sparked my interest. After the class trip, I googled “donate water,” which led me to some interesting websites. Ultimately, my search led to “Charity: Water,” a New York-based nonprofit that was fairly new to the charity world but pretty hip to the online world. Exploring the website, I found statistics on the water crisis and saw videos of well digging and other water projects. The amount of information astounded me. There were financial reports, maps showing GPS-located work sites, and a frequently updated blog. Of all the great resources on the website, two aspects of the charity stood out to me:

  1. One hundred percent of all donations from the public went to water campaigns, not to the charity’s rent and payroll, which were funded by private businesses and entrepreneurs.
  2. Anyone could start a fundraiser through Charity: Water. For example, I could decide that instead of receiving presents for my birthday, I would ask people to make online donations to raise money for water projects. I could track the donations, and other people could watch as I reached my fundraising goal. Learning about Charity: Water led me to talk with my youth pastor about setting up a fundraising campaign, and my youth group raised about $450.

rwanda2The point is that one random conversation, fueled by some research, led to contributions to a drilling rig that has helped entire communities in Uganda and other third world countries. Anyone is capable of doing what little I did; the generosity of my youth group did the rest. I found on hundreds of people—plenty of teens and even some children—who were sponsoring their own campaigns. They were successful because they wanted to help and found ways to include other people in their dream. So what I’m saying is this: You can do it too!



cambodia9Write down some issues—local, national, or global—about which you are passionate. Go online to find out more about these issues. For example, look up “worker’s rights” or “global poverty.” Find out how you can donate, raise funds, or raise awareness. Then get excited! Tell your siblings, parents, and friends. Get them fired up. You’ll be surprised by the results of a little research and word-of-mouth advertising.


Photos © Charity: Water

David McCoy, 16 , is an avid reader, word scrawler, and clean water activist. He uses electronics more than he should and loves finding new opportunities in the online world.

—from devozine (July/August 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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