“Scott, Tekloine has a surprise for you. You need to go in a separate car from the group to find out”
I split off from our group of 35 and asked @mattoliver to join me. We drove for 15 minutes, made a left off the main road, and headed down into a wide and dusty plain.
Daniel, one of the senior guys on our local water programs team asked me what I thought the surprise was. I said I really didn’t know. Maybe Tek wanted to show me one of the wells that @vikharrison and I had personally built in the names of our children? Maybe a new area that needed funding?
Our Land Cruiser descending into a rocky clearing where the temperature seemed 10 degrees hotter than where we’d just come from.
We got out and walked down a path, where a group of about 70 priests, men, women and children were gathered underneath a tree. I spotted a newly completed well, with a carefully constructed stone wall around it. Tek stood in front of it, grinning. He motioned me over to a curtain which hid something behind it in the rock wall. I moved the curtain, revealing the sign:
Debre Brhan Community Dakutu. NSBH. “In memory of the great mom Joan Kleppinger Harrison.” Tek handed me a package wrapped in shiny purple wrapping paper. Inside was a framed photo of mom, with the words “It’s not been easy to accept the death of our beloved mother Joan Kleppinger Harrison, but we feel proud of your son Scott Harrison, being with us strongly working hard to create access to clean and safe drinking water for the rural and needy people of Tigray.” - From REST staff, Tigray, Ethiopia. Tek told me that when my mom died of cancer last June, he asked 1500 of his local staff to contribute 200 birr ($7) and crowdfunded this well in her honor.
Although the generous @charitywater community has funded over 7,000 water projects in the country for 2M people, the well at Debra Berhan is now the most special one for me. A place where I hope to bring my wife, father and kids soon to pay tribute to mom’s lasting memory of kindness and generosity. And I hope somewhere up in heaven, mom can see the plaque next to this life-giving source with her name on it.
Yayesh Hadush is one of the amazing hydrogeologists that works with @charitywater around the world. She’s 35 and has been finding clean water in the ground for the past 8 years in Ethiopia with our local partner REST. We asked her what her favorite part of the job was and she said simply, “the part where the water comes up” - She’s a hero to her people (and to us) and loves her job which ends the needless suffering of women and girls. #internationalwomensday#charitywater
I’ve seen countless wells drilled around the world. Every single time the drillers flush the well and the community knows they will really get clean water, I feel so honored to have played a very small part of the solution. This morning in Ethiopia was no exception.
For years, when we hosted our Well members and friends in Ethiopia, we’d stay at notoriously basic hotels in the rural areas. Now, we just pitch a few tents by a lake in the Adwa mountains, cook simple meals and try to make sure we at least exceed Fyre Festival standards.
So inspired after visiting one of the @charitywater Wahais Mai teams today. Wahais is the word in Tigrinya that means security or more literally, “the one who saves you and bails you out of jail” ... Mai means water. Together with our remote sensor technology, this amazing team of 18 mechanics covers a network of more than 5,000 charity: water wells in the Tigray region of Ethiopia for close to 2M people. Today, they repaired a well where a section of pipe had cracked, creating the same experience we’d have when trying to drink from a straw with a hole in it. They enlisted the help of the community to pull out about 25 stories worth of pipe, identified the leak and replaced the pipe. #charitywater
Every year I get the honor of hosting some of our top supporters for a week in Ethiopia. For 12 years now, @charitywater had been able to use 100% of all public donations to directly fund water projects thanks to an extraordinary group of private donors who fund all our staff and overheard. We don’t have much to offer them, except a chance to spend a week with us in-country to see the impact of clean water. I’m so excited to share our work with another amazing group, a country where we’ve now funded more than 7,000 water projects for 2.2M people. More to come!
I got to spend a few hours on the @daxshepard couch in LA for @armchairexppod - His amazing wife @kristenanniebell has been a longtime supporter and not only raised over $100,000 but came to Ethiopia with @charitywater to see the impact for herself .... Dax told me he was pretty skeptical about all of it. Yet at the end of two hours, he and Monica @mlpadman surprised me by pulling out their checkbooks and generously supporting @charitywater !! (Episode link in profile)
I took this picture nine years ago. It was one of my first trips to Ethiopia, if not the very first. ⠀ I happened to visit a charity: water project sponsored by the writer Tomie DePaolo in honor of his 75th birthday. Even though Tomie had written more than 260 children’s books, I’d never heard of him, and the idea of personally having kids was foreign at the time. ⠀ I immediately sent Tomie the picture, and thanked him for bringing clean water to hundreds of people living in Daereka village. ⠀ Since that trip, I’ve been to Ethiopia 30 different times, and have witnessed countless acts of radical generosity and sacrifice just like Tomie’s - all in the pursuit of providing clean and safe drinking water for people in need. And all those acts of kindness and support have added up to clean water for over 8.5M people in 28 countries. ⠀ Today, we end the best year in @charitywater history. ⠀ Hundreds of thousands of supporters have helped us raise just shy of $70M this year - enough to get more than 1.5 million people clean and safe drinking water in 2018 alone. That works out to an average of more than 4,100 people that got clean water EVERY SINGLE DAY in 2018. A stadium full of people every 5 days. ⠀ Not thanks to me ... but to YOU - our community of supporters from 100+ countries around the world. ⠀ To our Spring members… to our Water Project sponsors .. to our 132 Well members who pay all our overhead costs… to our fundraisers … to our volunteers … to our staff and interns … to our one-time donors… I’m so grateful for your support, your trust and your loyalty. ⠀ YOU made 2018 a year that surpassed all our expectations. ⠀ Here’s to a world where every single person has clean water to drink. ⠀ The best is yet to come.
Coming soon in January .... Got to talk about #thirstbook and @charitywater with my old friend @poppyharlowcnn for Boss Files. Poppy was there at the very beginning 13 years ago when we all worked off a dining room table and stored $20 bottles of charity: water we “hoped” to sell in a spare bathroom ...