It was 102 degrees that day. With our sunblock on and a bottle of [lukewarm] water in hand, we loaded up to go into the bush of Kenya to set up a two-day medical camp in a village that was unable to get any medical treatments. It took us four hours of off-roading in Land Rovers to get there. There were points of the trip that we were not sure if we could go any further because the terrain was so rugged. Upon arrival, we had discovered that not only were the villagers that we expected there, but there were also villagers that had traveled for days to get there upon hearing that we would be coming with medicine. We set up our stuff and sat under a makeshift shade tent as we buckled down to meet thousands of Africans who had come for help. And of all the people I met, there is one face I will never forget.
Her name was Yolanda (pictured below). She had waited in line for hours, with the hot African sun beating down on her and her four children, until finally she got to me and gave me her prescriptions. Unlike most of the villagers, she knew a little bit of English. As I gave her baby two shots and began filling prescriptions for each of her children, she began telling me about the reality of life in that African village. The women worked together inside the village to keep things running while the men were out hunting for food every day. Often times an entire tribe of men would come back with just one catch of the day…to feed the whole tribe. Food was not the only problem – there were no water sources anywhere within miles and so this tribe was forced to drink from muddy puddles after it rained and to collect the water from those puddles to save for the drought season.
I stopped her right there.
Did she just say that they saved water from muddy puddles so that they could drink it later? My hands clammed up as I was in the process of reaching for my bottle of Poland Spring. She continued to explain that many of their children are very sick and some have even died due to the fact that they have no clean water.
It was then and there that I realized something had to be done.
Fast forward to a year and a half ago when I moved back to the states and decided to go full-time with my photography business. I have a chicken-scratch piece of paper that I wrote on the flight home with five goals of running my business stateside. The very first thing I wrote was “make a difference.” I knew that it was important to make money and develop my product and be authentic and all that. But the single most important thing for me as making a difference – In the lives of my clients, in the lives of vendors I would work with, and in the lives of those who don’t have the chance I have.
That piece of paper reminds me every day that I have a responsibility to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
A few months ago I sat and looked over my first full year in business, stateside. I couldn’t help but thank God for the amazing opportunities I had within my first year back. As I sat there, I felt like it was time to step it up and put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I began researching different organizations to get involved with or non-profits to support. After spending weeks researching, I went to the Thirst Relief website and the answer was obvious to me. I was immediately reminded of Yolanda and her children and at that point I knew that I had found the organization that I wanted to support.
So here it is (our big announcement!)– 10% of the proceeds from every wedding that is booked between now and the end of this year will go to support Thirst Relief. Every base fee, every album sale, every print sale. 10% of everything wedding related will be given over in hopes of a better, healthier future for some of these people who don’t have the means that you and I do. 10% might seem like a vague number, so let me help break it down for you. $5. That is our goal – doing this $5 at a time, because with Thirst Relief $5 can provide a person clean water for the rest of his or her life.
We will start by raising money to build a filter in Haiti, a place that you all know is on my heart after I went there last year. The posts from that trip can be found here, here and here. Right now $785.50 is needed to finish the building of the water filter that will provide clean water for 130 children at an orphanage. $785.50 might sound like a lot if it was just one person, but it’s not – it is all of us. If each person reading this blog donated a couple dollars upon reading this post, we could easily reach that goal by the end of today. $5 will provide clean water for a person for life. Just $5. Our hope and prayer is that by the end of this year we could build up to 7 wells and filters around the world, therefore providing clean water and eliminating a lot of sickness and disease for over THOUSANDS of people. Thousands.
From the Thirst Relief website:
“In this day and age, the statistics are seemingly unbelievable. 1.1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, and nearly 2.5 million people die each year due to waterborne-related disease (90% of which are children under the age of 5). As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a worldwide water crisis among the world’s poorest people. Further, the UN has declared 2005-2015 Water for Life: The International Decade for Action.Every week, due to easily preventable causes, diarrheal disease claims the lives of 30,000 people, most of them young children. This is a silent humanitarian crisis that thwarts progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs). The consequences of our collective failure to tackle this problem are the dimmed prospects for the billions of people locked in a cycle of poverty and disease.HIV/AIDS and Clean Drinking Water
The lack of clean drinking water is at the root of the African HIV/AIDS pandemic. Children and adults living with HIV/AIDS require clean drinking water to survive. Waterborne illness, considered normally mild in healthy adults, becomes an incurable death sentence for those affected by HIV/AIDS. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, millions of people lack access to the basic necessity of clean drinking water. In this same region, some 25 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. The result – over 2 million children and adults die of HIV/AIDS annually in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
Integral to this horrible cycle, sickness and disease resulting from the consumption of contaminated drinking water destroy the strength and development of African families and communities. This leads to extreme poverty, lack of education, tremendous inequities, and greater illnesses, creating conditions ripe for the continued spread of HIV/AIDS. Caught in this downward spiral, it becomes difficult, and most cases impossible, for individuals to progress out of their terrible plight.
The Power of Prevention
One of our Thirst Relief partners, who is an emergency/trauma center doctor turned medical missionary, attended a tropical medicine seminar. He was astonished to learn the following – over one hundred medical practitioners agreed that three ongoing medical clinics a day, in any given tropical region of the world, wouldn’t have as much impact on addressing a community’s health as simply addressing their need for clean drinking water. By providing a source of clean, safe drinking water to those in need, we are preventing waterborne disease and circumventing the need to treat it. For those without access to doctors and antibiotics, this prevention is literally life saving.
What you can do:
#1 – Pray! Pray that we are able to, together, donate even more than we are hoping for!
#2 – Spread the word! Do you know of anyone getting married? Tell them what we are doing and that their wedding can serve a greater purpose!
#3 – Donate! You can donate today on the fundraiser page we have set up through Thirst Relief. Let’s get this filter in Haiti built ASAP!
$5 = a changed, healthier life. Let’s do this, together.