By Kaleigh Lawson
Denver-based Water for People is changing lives one community at a time
About 70 percent of the earth is made of water and the human body consists of 60 percent water on average. This element is the life-force that keeps us alive. With daily access to clean, fresh water, many of us tend to take this precious necessity for granted. Everyone deserves the right to hydrate without the fear of becoming seriously ill, and Water for People (WFP) aims to resolve
From an early age, we are taught how important water is to our survival, yet we are not usually educated on the millions of people across the world who do not have the luxury of accessing it. For many, water is not in a sanitary condition that is safe to drink. WFP decided to step in and take action by assisting countries overseas in acquiring safe water. Since 1991, WFP has worked in more than 40 countries; they’re currently involved with 10 countries, such as Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru. WFP originally believed that having multiple projects across the world at one time was ideal. However, they soon realized they would have a bigger impact on communities if they focused on a few countries at a time. “We don’t want to go in and dig wells,” says Kristin Sturges, senior manager of marketing and strategy. “We want to work with communities and the government. It needs to be sustainable over time, for generations, forever.” When choosing countries and communities to assist, it isn’t as easy as closing your eyes and pointing to a location on a map. WFP takes the necessary steps to ensure government involvement, community participation, the safety of the location and more.
It involves so much more than entering a country and giving the community access to clean water. While giving a country a well to provide water is an amazing act of generosity, it will not do much good without the education necessary to sustain the well as a clean source of water. Education is the key to the success of water sustainability. By teaching school employees and children, bigger things will happen. “Educating children in school about hygiene, sanitation and making sure they have toilets really does translate to education in the household,” says Sturges. “We realized that when kids learn this, they take this home.” Like water, the education flows from one community to the next. “Other communities then replicate and replicate,” says Stephen Riggins, chief marketing officer of WFP. Other populations become somewhat envious of the success and health of nearby communities, so they adopt the same water and sanitation efforts. After their roots are anchored, WFP monitors the progress of the community for up to 10 years in order to guarantee success.
Riggins and Sturges emphasize that Denver is a perfect market to expand their outreach because Denverites are sympathetic to the issue of water conservation. “Denver is such a perfect market of understanding,” says Sturges. “Denver people can really relate to what we are trying to do abroad.” With Denver’s own drought and wildfire battles, many of us have developed an understanding of the importance of water and pay attention to those who lack it. Denverites have plenty of opportunities to lend a helping hand. Create your own fundraisers, donate, volunteer and travel to the locations; whatever your method, WFP and people around the globe await your help.
NEED-TO -KNOW INFO
Donate and cheer on Mark Goldfarb, a Water for People employee, as he races in the Colfax Marathon to raise money for Water for People. Have another fundraising idea? Create your own campaign and make a difference through Water for People at waterforpeople.com