The other day I watched a webinar by Eban Pagan, one of the top internet marketing gurus out there. It was long but well worth the time spent watching it and by the end of it I was ready to go to the bank to get a loan to take his program. I’m still thinking about it actually. But that’s not the point of this story.
At the end of the webinar, he mentioned that 1% of all profits from the program would go to charitywater.org. Up until this time I had never heard of charitywater.org but following the webinar, as though I hadn’t spent enough time already starting at a computer screen, I went and checked out the website. Eban’s description of the charity and the reasons why he puts a portion of his revenues back into the world intrigued me. At first I just went and looked because I was thinking, ‘That’s a good idea.”
But then I spent the next hour reading everything on the charitywater.org website and crying. You will too, so fair warning–you WILL cry.
It tells the story, with video no less, of a little nine year old girl named Rachel. Last year, 2011, all Rachel wanted for her ninth birthday was for people to donate $9 (because she was nine) to charity:water. Her goal was to raise $300 which would provide clean drinking water for 15 people. She didn’t reach her goal, raising only $220 but she vowed to try harder the next year. She didn’t get the chance. Only one month later, Rachel was killed in a tragic accident with a tractor-trailer near Seattle, Washington.
The story of Rachel and her goal to help people in Ethiopia have clean drinking water spread, and a month after her death, 30,000 people had donated more than $1.2 million to charity:water. This year, on the anniversity of Rachel’s death, her mother was brought to Ethiopia to see her daughter’s legacy for herself. I can promise you that if you go to www.charitywater.org, you’ll be in tears before you leave the first page.
Now it’s not the first time, obviously, that I’ve seen businesses donating a portion of their profit to good causes. In fact, when I was writing Future Pull, several of the people I spoke to told me that they make it a point to give back with either in-kind or financial support. For example, Tara’s Toy Box gives to Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Africa Burn Relief and Physicians for Peace and her family and company motto is “It is in the giving that we receive.”
During this same few days, I was also listening to one of the Success Magazine CDs in my car on my daily commute. One of the reasons I love Success Magazine is the CD that comes with it every month. That same day I was listening to an interview with three young guys from California who went to Africa and made a documentary about what young kids go through in Uganda to avoid being abducted and turned into child soldiers. They ended up sparking a grassroots movement that mobilized thousands of American teens into action to raise money to rebuild war-torn schools in northern Uganda and provide scholarships to African youth.
Sometimes it just takes a small pebble dropped into your consciousness to ripple out and lead to action. I decided at that point to choose a charity and donate a portion of my earnings. I wanted it to be something I could relate to, something where most or all of the money went directly to the cause, and something that didn’t promote a particular religion or belief system. Charity: water was the one I chose and not just because it met those three criteria. It was because it resonated with me because of a particular experience I had as a child.
In 1960, after having only lived in large cities – London, England, Toronto and New York—I ended up living for a brief time in Ombabika. Ombabika, believe it or not is one of the places mentioned in Johnny Cash’s song, I’ve Been Everywhere. I can’t believe he was in Ombabika.
Ombabika is way up at the top of Lake Nipigon in Northern Ontario. It’s a small bush community—other than one other old white guy, I think we were the only non-aboriginal people living there. It had no hydro, no running water, and few roads. We walked a mile along a railway track to get to Auden to pick up the mail. It wasn’t unusual to have to get off the tracks and walk far into the swampy area to avoid the dead animals that had been killed by trains and were strewn for yards down the track.
We lived in a log cabin and we had to get our water from a well, but that wasn’t drinkable, or a pump. The pump was about a mile away from our house through the bush, in front of the old white guys house. He was a pervert so I hated going that way. Not only that, the pump was right beside the graveyard and I can assure you that anyone who died in Ombabika wasn’t buried in a nice fancy lead-lined coffin. But I chose not to think about that then and I’m not going to think about it now. Believe it or not, I loved Ombabika and, although it was a major culture shock for a ten year old from the big city, I had a lot of fun.
Winter came very early in Ombabika and that year I think it was around my birthday at the end of September that we had a major snowstorm. Now I stopped drinking milk—disgusting substance—when I was four and in Ombabika, because we had no electricity, the only milk that anyone drank was canned Carnation milk watered down. I thought regular milk was disgusting—that stuff was absolutely horrible. The Hudson Bay store in Auden had limited groceries available so juice and that kind of thing was out of the question. We drank water.
Well one day, in the middle of the snowstorm, we ran out of drinking water. I got thirsty. I’ve never been so thirsty since. I ate snow but I wanted a big glass of water. I didn’t have boots yet for the winter because we had just gone there in June and hadn’t taken our winter clothes. So I put big old man socks on and then wrapped pillowcases around them and tied them up and walked to the pump in the snow. Anything for a glass of water. It wasn’t long after that that I was sent back home to Toronto but now I have to wonder, what happened in Ombabika in the middle of a minus 40 degree winter—could they even pump up drinking water?
Now I only had to walk a mile to get that water. People in Africa spend much of their day walking for water. If I can help with that, I will. I am committing to donating 5% of my profits to charity:water. I think it was Jim Rohn who said, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”