MSNBC Nightly News ran an awesome story last night about a girl named Rachel and her dream to give clean water to those in need. She died tragically last month and it appears her cause has gone viral. She gave up birthday presents for her 9th birthday in lieu of donations, with a goal of $300. She's creeping in on $1.2 million at this point!
Check out the video story from MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619//vp/43950745#43950745
Interestingly, the organization she was raising money for (charity: water) is a pretty cool NGO itself. The financial model they have set up has separate donations for operations (private donors dedicated to supporting the infrastructure and meeting needs as they come up) and water projects (where 100% of the money from public donors is directed!). They have also made a commitment to being visibly and publicly accountable to their donors by posting photos of projects and placing them on maps using Google Earth.
Interesting model with HUGE public health implications!
We know that in many societies the duty of fetching water falls to the women and children. Often, they walk for miles or for hours to collect water for the day -- water that frequently isn't even clean. Imagine spending your day's work to bring home water that will likely make your family sick! And in many cases, these outings are the most dangerous tasks for women as they are outside of the confines of their villages and are frequently assaulted or raped while searching for water. On multiple fronts, water is the first step to improved health in these communities -- (1) by reducing the spread of water borne illness (when combined with sanitation programs -- i.e. changing community habits of open defecation -- providing a clean water source has an even larger impact (2) by keeping women and children out of some of the most dangerous places they must travel to, opportunities for physical and sexual abuse are diminished (3) the opportunity cost of gathering water is astounding -- once folks have a local source for water, they are able to pursue other pursuits with economic impact.
Check out their video: "Water Changes Everything"
And it you'd like, you can find more information by perusing charity: water's website (http://www.charitywater.org/)