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The trouble with Voluntourism

April 18, 2016

Third Drive

Article by Christian Ray

I spent most of my life in what they call the Third World. People are often surprised to hear when I say that the 7 years I spent in Africa as a kid where magical. In fact, much of what I learned during those years equipped me for a fuller and more successful life.

Sarah Evans, gave up a thriving career as a finance lawyer to dig water wells in Kenya. The skills she aquired in the business world helped her develop a charity like no other in the trendy water charity world. On average, only 40% of water wells drilled by water charities still work after 6 months in operation. There are many reasons for this. The most heartbreaking one is Voluntourism.

Voluntourism is taking a group of good hearted westerners, and taking them to an exotic place to do good for others. While well intended, the trouble with voluntourism is that the main focus is on the volunteers, not necessarily the long term well being of a community in need. It can often be more about tourism, about making us feel better about ourselves than about actual change in a area of the world, striken by disease, lack of education, infrastrucre and plagued by social unrest. A broken model, to put it mildly.

Well Aware has a 100% success rate, which is unprecedented in the industry. They accomplish this with a combination of reasearch and technological advancement. More importantly, they make sure there is a long term plan for a community, deep involvement by community leaders and lots of communication.

Well Aware is launching their biggest drive of the year, the "Shower Strike" on April 22nd. Lots of people, companies and public figures are getting involved. To get involved, click here, or drop us a note.

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"I had sobering sinking-heart moment walking V into school today. Her preschool is participating in #ShowerStrike this year, so we took some items for the teachers to use to talk about clean water issues. V, because she's the adorable and convincing helper that she is, insisted on carrying the jerry can (it's empty).

I was unaware of the parallel completely- juggling my keys, lunch box, books and rain gear- just trying to check this off my do-do list. Then I looked up. And it hit me. My sweet, innocent baby girl could be one of the millions of children who have to do this every day- but with vessels full of water, in the hot sun, and often without shoes. But she's not, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I'm also deeply grateful that I can be a part of alleviating this suffering for those much less fortunate children and their families. And not just assuaging their pain, but also providing the chance for a *much* better life ahead.

If you want to be a part of that, too, you can donate to V's page. Every $10 provides clean water for another child for 20-30 years.bit.ly/VioletOnStrikeYou can also join us and help raise the funds that will alter the life paths of these children who are just like ours." Sarah Evans. founder of Well Aware.

Listen to the full story on the Third Drive podcast. You will be enlightened and inspired. Subscribe to keep the great stories and insights coming.