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Phoenix, U.S.A. – Everything big starts out small. Thousands of people in Haiti without access to clean drinking water will understand that in a tangible way very soon. Recently, Ethan Wolfe, a 6 year-old Phoenix boy heard that people in Haiti had to drink “dirty water” every day and asked his family what they could do about it.
And in the span of about one month, more than 4,600 people filled emptied water bottles with dollar bills and change as part of the Dirty Water campaign at Palmcroft Baptist Church. The “Dirty Water fasting” campaign asked people to drink nothing but water for a month and donate the money they would have paid during that time for coffee, soda, juices and other drinks. The most recent count puts the “dirty water” collection at over $105,000.
The original campaign goal was to raise $25,000, but the response from the Phoenix community has been overwhelming. “The efforts to bring clean water can be appreciated by everyone across our entire community regardless of generation, gender or grade,” said Jeff Wolfe, pastor at Palmcroft Baptist Church and father of the kindergartener who inspired the challenge to make a difference.
100% of funds raised will go toward clean water projects for the poorest of the poor through Palmcroft’s partner, LiquidWater.com. To date, Liquid Water has brought over 45 communities sustainable clean water solutions in countries such as Haiti, Ethiopia and El Salvador.
On average, $5,000 builds a well for a community of 400 that will bring clean safe drinking water for 20 years. The campaign funds will be used to establish over a dozen new wells and accompanying clean water projects in the Haiti region in 2012 and 2013.
Since the start of the Dirty Water campaign on April 5, several community organizations have indicated interest in self-organizing into a coalition of support for even more projects in the immediate future. “The best part of what we have been able to do with the Palmcroft community is that it has become more than just basic fundraising. We’re excited to see a movement organizing in Phoenix to potentially produce 12-months of support for water projects around the world,” said Rich Birch, vice-president of LiquidWater.com
The World Health Organization reports that about 760 million people do not have a choice but to use unsafe water with poor sanitation, which kills more people than all forms of violence, including war.
“On our own, we would have been able to raise $20,000-$25,000 for the cause. But partnering with Liquid Water to empower the greater Phoenix area has allowed us to raise in excess of $100,000 to date. It is exciting to know the impact our community will have for thousands of people in Haiti for years to come,” said Wolfe.
And in the end, Ethan, the kindergartener who started it all was not pivotal for his inspiration only. His own personal fundraising campaign results? Over $5,700 – enough for an entire water well. Everything big does start small indeed.