Brooke’s 27th Birthday Charity:Water Campaign, One Year Later…
Charity:Water is an organisation with a simple message and mandate: to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. I came across it a couple of years ago when a friend of mine ‘donated’ his birthday to the charity, asking for donations to in lieu of the usual socks and man-gifts. I thought it was a brilliant idea and loved the way Charity:Water made it incredibly easy/simple/attractive to ‘give’ your birthday and make a difference. You create a personalised campaign webpage attached to the Charity:Water website (www.charitywater.org) where your friends can donate online, leave you a birthday message and immediately see the progress bar boost further toward it’s monetary goal whilst a box next to that shows you how many people are going to be able to served by what has been donated so far.
So the next birthday I had, I decided to create my own birthday campaign but invite not only my friends and family to contribute, but all my fans around the world.
That was a year ago almost to the day and by the time the campaign wrapped up, YOU AMAZING PEOPLE had given over $50,000 to the clean water cause. (You can see my closed campaign at www.mycharitywater.org/brookefraser .)
Usually the turnaround time between the close of a campaign and the opening of its resulting projects is 18 months or so, but Charity:Water and their partners fast-tracked two projects so that I could report back to you within the 12 month mark.
So in October, two short months ago, I and 13 others touched down in Mekele, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, our touring party led by Charity:Water founder Scott Harrison and his wife Vik.
Ethiopia was more beautiful than I’d expected. Ethiopia conjured, for me, images of dry, arid deserts. Instead I found mountains, valleys, vistas, fields, rivers. Certainly much more vast and sweeping than the tightly packed rolling hills of sorghum crops and coffee plantations I became used to in Rwanda.
Our first couple of days involved visiting other birthday campaign projects (those of the friend I mentioned in the intro, actually), visiting communities who were still waiting for clean water, and seeing hand dug and shallow borehole projects currently under construction.
Toward the middle of the week we were to visit the first of two of my birthday campaign projects, fast-tracked especially for our trip. Though the plaques on the projects are named for the campaigns that have funded them (ours are called “Brooke Fraser’s 27th Birthday”, I tried to emphasise to the communities that this project had been given to them not by me, but by many people all around the world who had heard that they needed clean water and had responded. This was met with astonishment, wonder, joy. These communities were amazed by the fact that people who had never met them would care about and, probably more importantly, respond to their needs.
One thing that strikes you in the welcoming ceremonies is that after you are thanked, hugged, patted and plied with gifts (like goats and “I Love You” bread) and gratitude, the people remind you that need still exists. The school needs latrines, the area is so large and people so numerous that one well is not enough. It’s challenging and a reminder that there is much work to do, many more people who need to donate their birthdays!
Continue to Part Two.