Water-related charities are dear to my heart (Read how you can help, one way I help, and why it’s important.) so I love seeing companies sharing their resources to help bring clean water to people in need. Earlier this year I was invited to Central America to help drill a well with WeatherMatic, as part of their Save Water | Give Life campaign. I wasn’t able to go this time, but I made them promise to tell me all about it when they got back and I thought you’d like to hear some inspiring stories from the trip, as well. The video above has highlights of the team’s time in Central America and below, one of the team members shares why he went and what he learned from his first experience drilling a well in a rural village.
Sharing the Savings
Imagine for a moment if by using water more responsibly we could do even more; something transformative and selfless. What if we could magically collect and transport the water we save in our landscape and distribute it to the almost 1 billion people who have no access to clean water? That would be inspiring and amazing! And, considering the average commercial property wastes enough water, often clean drinking water, in the landscape to support 200 families in the developing world; the idea of “Sharing the Savings” feels like the right thing to do on many levels.
Now as much as I love the concept of Sharing the Savings, I really, really wanted to go and personally see it in action. Could the average 38% water savings created by our technology truly be transformed into clean water for people in desperate need? Well, after a life changing week in rural Guatemala with coworkers and customers, I can tell you the answer is YES!
Culture shock is an understatement to describe my first morning in rural Guatemala as we took our village tour. I felt I had been transported through my television screen during one of Sally Struthers’ commercials about donating $.70 a day to the children of the Third World. I literally tripped over dead iguanas along a hot, dusty path to meet the first family on the tour in their thatched roof home with no walls and dirt floors. Precious little girls waited anxiously for us to enter; these would end up being the same girls I would see daily at the local school where we would be drilling. The value of water hit me immediately as I watched the girls’ mother, who was 6 months pregnant, use incredible strength to lift a bucket of water from an open, dirty water well for use in washing dishes and clothes. In that moment, one year after creating the Save Water | Give Life charity, our purpose became crystal clear as I watched the 6-year old girl staring through me with big brown eyes rest her chin on the side of the bucket and slowly drink the diseased water that I would be afraid to even touch (this image is captured in the trip video).
Freshly inspired and understanding our purpose after the village tour, our team joined forces with the local community members to embark on the well drilling process. The drilling team work is not for the faint of heart – lots of mud and sweat was had by all! Thankfully, our daily ritual included a lunch prepared, paid for, and served daily by the local families to show their appreciation, almost as if we were foreign dignitaries. After two days of intense work and hitting water at 67 feet, we celebrated and waited for results of the water quality test.
That’s when we got the bad news.
The yellow tinted water had an odor of sulfur and was unsafe for drinking. We literally felt sick to our stomachs with the realization we could possibly leave our new Guatemalan friends without fulfilling our mission of providing clean water. Since the well drilling equipment is booked weekly and committed to other Central American communities, it was now or never, for our team and this community in need. So, under the faint light of the moon, we huddled with the community leaders and through translators committed to start over from scratch, redouble our efforts, and begin drilling early the next morning to an even greater depth in search of clean water. Finally, after two more 16 hour days and drilling through what at times seemed like unsurpassable rock formations to a depth of 110 feet, we successfully found clean water for the 181 children of the Monte Rico school!
While the constant humming of the drilling compressor reverberated through the school yard for four days, our hygiene team was focused on a completely different, but equally important task. Keep in mind that people who have never had clean water must be taught how to use it to receive the benefits. So, with my simple Spanish and the help of a translator, we cycled through classrooms teaching the children clean water hygiene skills like brushing teeth and washing hands, and how to combat stomach illnesses by creating oral rehydration solutions (ORS). On breaks and after school, I organized soccer games of 30-on-30 between superbly talented teams they named Barcelona and Real Madrid. (Oddly, these impoverished children can go to homes with satellite TV and watch English Premier League soccer because satellite TV can be financed for a low monthly cost while no affordable water distribution system is available.)
Thanks to the combined efforts of our drilling and hygiene teams and supports of thousands of customers, no longer will these children, so full of love and hope, drink from a diseased 10 foot deep open well. This was all made possible because caring people who are responsible for water management made a decision to save water AND give life!
A Lesson and A Challenge
On our final night of the trip as we reflected on our adventures, I heard a familiar song, but this time in a different way. U2’s Bono wrote “Where the Streets Have No Name” referencing the strict class structure in Ireland and how just by knowing the street would reveal someone’s social status and wealth. Bono dreamed of a place where the streets have no name, meaning a time and place where people would not be judged by their class, but simply as equal members of God’s creation. Through Save Water | Give Life, I was able to go to a place where the streets literally have no name and where we who are so blessed with luxuries like clean water worked as equals, shoulder to shoulder in the mud, with our struggling brothers and sisters in Guatemala. Having been there, I strongly encourage anyone reading this to step out and experience selfless giving through Save Water | Give Life or the water charity of your choice. Whether you participate through pursuing water savings on your properties or actively joining us on a trip, you will make a profound difference in the lives of others and be forever changed in the process.
Brodie Bruner is Vice President of Business Development for Weathermatic where he has worked for the past 18 years. Weathermatic, based in Dallas, TX, is a global irrigation manufacturing and water management solutions business and provider of the world’s leading smart, web based irrigation control system – SmartLink Network. Brodie resides near Dallas with his wife and their 3 children.