January 8, 2021

A Year of Remarkable Innovation

I look back on 2020 with both pain and pride. It was many months of more surprises, challenges, and heartbreak than I ever thought possible for this organization. Well Aware was not immune to the way the world was rapidly changing around us, and, in an instant, it was clear that it would be a year that looked like no other for our clean water work.

As a small, nimble organization, though, we were able to quickly regroup and create a new trajectory for our work. While we were postponing project implementation, reworking our budgets, applying for PPP, and assembling a plan to maintain team morale and culture, we were also devising a plan for impact for our partner communities in the context of the new and dire circumstances.

wash-app-trainingIn March, during the highest concentration of organizational shifts and forced innovation, the words we kept hearing from our regions of work and from the most respected international organizations was this: what communities in rural, developing countries needed most was information, and they needed it quickly. In order to provide this critically needed information and training – to equip these communities with a proper defense against the rampant spread of coronavirus – we had to create something new. Since most of these towns and counties were on lockdown, we couldn’t send our team, and we couldn’t risk the health of our local colleagues and the villages.

kid-washing-hands-kithokaIn just a few weeks, we created a strategy to not just send this information to these regions instantly, but also provide interactive training, resources, and live support for additional questions and needs – all via an app that we simply modified from an app I’ve been working on through another initiative, leveraging the exponentially-expanding mobile phone access there.

The next few months that followed included all things new to us and the organization as a whole – app deployment, new fundraising campaigns, fully remote workdays, and some crazy ideas about how to keep it all moving in the right direction.

It all worked – we equipped and trained our communities, raised the needed funding, and we all kept looking forward – toward greater access to clean water and the resources to amplify that access.

In the final months of the year, as lockdowns lifted, we were able to do more implementation work, and we’ve been building an incredible momentum to create more water systems in 2021 that in any year past.

All of this would not have been possible without you – our donors, volunteers, and advisors. You put your faith in this small but mighty team to carry out a seemingly impossible plan. You donated when you weren’t sure about your own finances; you reached out to check in when you knew we needed it; you believed in us. As a result, we have made a beautiful difference in the lives of thousands of people together.

kids-waiting-to-wash-handsIt’s time now to get back to work, and not just in the way that we always have. Now that we know how efficient and impactful digital support can be, our clean water projects will be even better maintained, more quickly repaired, and the communities more thoroughly trained – all because of our innovation in the most difficult year of our lives.

We are deeply grateful for you, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ll get done in 2021 for these incredible communities.

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