It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!
FIRST THOUGHT: The Power of Water
Before I listen to On the Dot, I like to sit up in bed and listen to a meditation app every morning. (Uh, OK, you got me. Maybe I listen just a few times a week.) One of my favorites is called Gratitude. It forces me to be thankful for the most basic of things.
The thing I’m most thankful for is that we’re here at all. We get to breathe fresh air and drink clean water and eat fruits and vegetables. Those things sustain us. They literally keep us alive.
Today, take a few moments to find some gratitude in the basic things we all take for granted.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: No. 1
If you’re like me, you don’t really think much about water. You leave the sink running over frozen chicken so it’ll thaw, or you throw out half a bottle of water at a concert because you don’t want to carry it around anymore.
We’re spoiled when it comes to the stuff. But did you know, according to the World Economic Forum held last year, the water crisis is the number one global risk? One in 10 people throughout the world—that’s about 663 million people—don’t have access to safe water. And one-third of health-care facilities in low- and middle-income countries don’t even have a safe water source. Talk about scary!
WOMAN TO WATCH: Sarah Evans, Founder and Executive Director of Well Aware
Today’s Woman to Watch is trying to find a solution to that scary problem. Her name is Sarah Evans and she’s the founder and executive director of Well Aware, a nonprofit aimed at creating sustainable solutions to water scarcity and contamination in Africa.
Evans was born in Australia and attended law school at Southern Methodist University on a scholarship. While clerking at the Environmental Protection Agency, she learned about global water issues. She soon put her law degree to work, but nothing quite felt right.
Then, Evans chatted with a friend who was raising money for her father in Kenya because his animals were dying. Evans got to the heart of the problem: a lack of clean water. She realized the answer was to build a water well there.
In 2009, in order to raise money to build the well, Evans and more than a dozen of her friends went on a shower strike. They wouldn’t shower until they each raised $1,000 in donations for the project. It turns out, they raised an amazing $25,000, and in 2010, Evans was off to Kenya to drill a well.
Well Aware is Evans’ life’s work. After that first trip to Kenya, she knew this is what she was meant to do. It wasn’t easy building a charitable organization, though. She had to give up a lot of financial burdens, like her house and car, and she had to accept donations, live off savings and move in with her parents. Evans also became a single mom, but she says all of her sacrifices made her stay grateful and focused.
Well Aware is made up of a team of CEOs, scientists, nurses, accountants and others. GreatNonprofits named it a top-rated nonprofit in 2015. And that’s well-founded. Well Aware doubles its efforts every year and has served almost 100,000 people. Usually, only 40 percent of water systems work after six months, but for Well Aware, the success rate is 100 percent because the organization ensures there’s a long-term plan for success.
Evans was struck by some water charities’ failure to produce access to long-term water supplies. The cumulative costs of failed water systems are estimated at about $1.2 billion. Giving a community a water system to depend on, then taking it away by not setting it up for long-term success can be devastating.
That’s why Evans is launching a new company to complement Well Aware and help mitigate this issue. It will provide technical expertise to non-governmental organizations dealing with the world’s clean-water issues, everything from consultations to completely overseeing water projects. The hope is that more of these lifesaving water projects will become viable resources for communities for decades to come.
Evans has created a world-changing charity unlike any other. You can help with the water crisis by donating to Well Aware online or participating in its annual shower strike. An excuse to forgo my beauty routine for charity? Sign me up!
Read the full article about Sarah on On the Dot here.