how successful are you?

2012-09-25 Jaala Spain (10)

By Roosevelt’s definition, just how successful are you?

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Perhaps less famous than Roosevelt is Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity. He challenges readers to perform an annual review as a means of evaluating whether you achieve what you set out to each year….this blog and the ensuing walk are two of the results of my first annual review. It could be that I’m on the way to finding little successes both according to Roosevelt and Guillebeau. Time will tell just how much Roosevelt-success we achieve (ie money to provide those without water a clean drinking source), but right now plans are on track.

How about you? Has your 2013 been successful? What are your plans for 2014?×5/2013-annual-review/
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charitable about charity

JnJ Spain 2012 057

“When we want to help the poor, we usually offer them charity. Most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and finding the solution for it. Charity becomes a way to shrug off our responsibility. But charity is no solution to poverty. Charity only perpetuates poverty by taking the initiative away from the poor. Charity allows us to go ahead with our own lives without worrying about the lives of the poor. Charity appeases our consciences.”
― Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty

Or not so charitable, as the case may be.

Maybe it’s true, that we hand over some dollars and turn our backs. Maybe we need to do the former, whilst guarding against the latter.

Scott Harrison, the founder of charity: water, sees charity a bit differently. He explains on the website:


For me, charity is practical. It’s sometimes easy, more often inconvenient, but always necessary. It’s the ability to use one’s position of influence, relative wealth and power to affect lives for the better. charity is singular and achievable.

There’s a biblical parable about a man beaten near death by robbers. He’s stripped naked and lying roadside. Most people pass him by, but one man stops. He picks him up and bandages his wounds. He puts him on his horse and walks alongside until they reach an inn. He checks him in and throws down his Amex. “Whatever he needs until he gets better.”

Because he could.

The dictionary defines charity as simply the act of giving voluntarily to those in need. It’s taken from the word “caritas,” or simply, love. In Colossians 3, the Bible instructs readers to “put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

Although I’m still not sure what that means, I love the idea. To wear charity.

If you wear charity, you’re not going to walk away, it’s going to go with you. Your conscience will be constantly reminded, not appeased. Your life will go ahead, with charity on your back, covering your head, constantly reminding you of the lives of the poor.
According to Muhammad Yunus, most people use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and finding the solution for it. Not so for Scott. He saw the problem and set about to be the answer. Rather than taking initiative away from the poor, he is helping to give them the means to live.

Quite possibly Yunus would point out Harrison’s version of charity is different to just throwing money at a problem. And he would be right.

How will you wear charity today? Tomorrow? Next year? In ten years?

the question of charity: water (aka Kyle’s speech)

Spain Sept 29 Santiago (56)
I trawled back through every single photo we took on the 2012 Camino. There is not one of Kyle alone. This is because he likes to never be alone. Mr Sociable, he is always in the presence of Someone Else. So here’s one of him with Plate Two from our Last Supper in Santiago. He had already eaten a big bowl of seafood chowder – even the octopus – and struggled to conquer this enormous plate with half a chicken on it. Struggled, but won, and went on to polish off dessert as well!

Earlier this year when we were studying Africa, I set the task for Kyle to find out about charity: water and write a speech that would inform others about the organisation. Later – when we had made the decision to walk – we tailored the final paragraph to reflect our story.

The Question of charity: water

Hi, Kyle Ayres here, 16 years old, brought up privileged in West Auckland. I’m interested in gliders, longboarding, socialising and charity: water!

Have you ever wondered? Have you ever dreamed? Have you ever asked a question?
I’m going to ask some questions today. Are you ready?
What do you think all the following countries have in common?
Bangladesh, [pause] Bolivia, [pause] Burkina Faso, [pause] Cambodia, Honduras, India, and Kenya.
[pause – wait for answers – even take answers from the audience]
Let me tell you, they and another baker’s dozen of countries are the places where charity: water has worked so far.

So what is charity: water? [pause]
charity: water is a non-profit organization, started in 2006, by Scott Harrison. It strives to bring fresh clean and safe water to the developing world.

Why did Scott start it? [pause]
Because it was so hot and he wanted to go swimming, but he couldn’t because the water was so dirty? Not really.
When Scott took a trip to Africa as a photographer, he was shocked and horrified at the poverty that existed there. People lived in little mud huts with mud floors and mud roofs. The animals, if the people owned any, ran in and out of the huts spreading bacteria into the huts and attracting flies with all their germs into their living space. Not only that, but the water that they used for cooking was full of bacteria which is incredibly harmful to children and babies. While he was there the parable of the Good Samaritan kept going round his head. He did not want to be someone who just saw all the poverty and did nothing about it. [pause]
Scott once wrote, “Charity is practical. It’s sometimes easy, more often inconvenient, but always necessary. It’s the ability to use one’s position of influence and relative wealth to change the lives of others for the better.” So when he returned to America he started up charity: water because he knew that while he couldn’t help the whole world he could help by giving one village at a time a fresh water source.

So how exactly did Scott decide to go about this?
First of all he started up a blog where people could read about what he wanted to do. He invited them to donate money. Once he had enough money for one well, he went to Uganda and chose a village that didn’t have one. People saw the progress, they kept reading and they kept donating and even more wells were built and more lives were changed.
Today almost 9,000 projects have been funded in over 20 different countries and nearly three and a half million people’s lives will have been changed just because they got a fresh, clean and safe water source in their village.

What does a typical water project look like?
Firstly, local partners of charity: water select a place where there is a great need for water and they make sure that the locals would be willing to look after the well if they were given one. Once a location is decided on a group of people go there and survey the area to determine what will be the most effective way of getting fresh, clean and safe water to the village. After that is done they work out how much it will cost to bring in the materials and machinery, and pay the workers to build the well. From there all that needs to be done is to dig the well! After the well is built check-ups are made to see that the villagers keep looking after the well and to make sure that it is still working.
The local partners also prepare a report of how long it took to build well and how much it cost, who got paid what. They report on its location-right down to its GPS coordinates and they take photos of the well. The report also includes who benefits from the project and who sponsored it. How do you know this is true? You can go to the website and see the project reports complete with photos and GPS co-ordinates. [big pause]

Can you imagine having to walk 45 minutes to get to a watering hole? [pause]
That was 12 year old Carolina’s life experience. With her 14 year old sister, Tibia, they had to walk one, two, three, four, sixteen minutes, and they are not even halfway there. 25, 30, 40 and the watering hole is finally in sight. When the girls reach the hole the water is full of rubbish and animal waste. If they drink the water without boiling it they will get sick and could possibly die. Once the girls have filled up their water containers, what do they have to do? Yep, you guessed it. 1, 2, 3, 4, 16, 25, 30, 45 minutes and more trudging back along the unsafe path, this time burdened down by 20 litres of water. It’s not just the time that is a problem. The girls are alone, vulnerable to being attacked both by human predators and animals.
When a well was sponsored to be built in their village the girls’ lives were changed. They no longer have to walk for hours along an unsafe path to get unsafe water every day. Instead they walk five minutes to get clean, safe and tasty water. [big pause]

Does charity: water just build wells?
No, this is a simplistic view. They actually assess each situation and work out the best solution. It might be a well – either hand dug or drilled, but it might be a rainwater catchment or spring protection and it might involve using a gravity-fed system or piped system and/or a water purification system or a bio-sand filter. They even build latrines as well.

How can you help Charity Water?
The greatest way you can help is by donating money. You could give your own money. Or you could ask your friends to make a donation instead of giving you a birthday present-you can still throw a party to celebrate. You could organise a fundraising event. If you do any of these things you can set up a campaign on the website to track your progress.
You could go to the online store and purchase something – maybe a hoodie, T-shirt, pen, sunnies, – or other things that people will see and ask you about. And there’s another great way to help – tell people. Then your friends and workmates might get involved too.
But it’s not just about money; they need your prayers as they bring life to the dying. [big pause]
The way I would particularly like to recommend today is supporting my family. My two little brothers are going to walk 1,000km across France and Spain, and my two little sisters will join them for nearly 900km too. They will take my Mum for the whole time and my Dad will drop off the little girls and stay for a couple of weeks. They are looking for sponsors for this walk. On February the 1st, they will put their own campaign on the charity: water website and you will be able to donate through that site. All of your donation goes directly to the project they are allocated to. You’ll be able to see the results when it’s finished. My youngest brother hopes they raise $100,000 – he is a boy with a big vision. He’s worked out that’s 10,000 people giving one cent per kilometre (or $10), or perhaps 1,000 people giving ten cents per kilometre ($100). He believes there are rich people who can afford that kind of money. I wonder if you’re one of them.

One more question. The most important one. What are you going to do?

Spain Sept 21 Hospital da Cruz (13)

Spain Sept 17 18 Sarria (16)

Spain Sept 9 Rabanal (17)

Spain Sept 20 Portomarin (1)

a word from Bono

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“Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die.”
― Bono

Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are in children under five years old.

clean water alone can reduce water-related deaths by 21%
sanitation alone can reduce water-related deaths by 37.5%

handwashing alone can reduce water-related deaths by 35%

information taken from the charity: water website