She stood there, looking out to the dry arid landscape around her. The tree towering over her is the only sign of life for miles around.

She takes a few steps forward, away from the shelter of the tree and into the beating hot sun.

She’s on a journey out of her village, to the dirty stream a few miles away collecting water for her family. The water in its beaten container is carefully filled, and then carried, it looks heavy. She walks with bare feet on the uneven and stony ground. She can’t be more than 13.

As she walks away, I can see further out into the landscape, the dry earth parched and thirsty. I stop for a moment to take in the scene.

The pause is broken by a flurry of activity behind me – it looks like a crowd is gathering. There are people all around, so close I can almost touch them.

Turning back around, there’s now a colossal machine, digging relentlessly into the earth. Reaching down into the depths to bring something out.

As the crowd grows, my eyes are drawn to the newly dug pump – it’s a well! As the shiny new pump starts, the clear water gushes out from the earth like a fountain – bringing smiles and joy to the people around it. It’s an amazing and humbling scene – the sheer delight that flows as the fresh, clean water pours out onto the ground.

I find myself transported to a different place, right underneath this clean water, looking up in delight as the water tumbles out around me.

It was at this point that this photo was taken.

charity:water VR London

seeing the impact

Through a 5 minute VR video, I had been transported to a world that wasn’t my own and shared with the remote village community in the joy that came when clean water flowed.

For just a few minutes, I had been transported to a world far away from the streets of London, with plentiful water supplies. Worlds away from the excitement and bustle of the Barbican, with its innovation, fresh ideas and city buzz, and, miles away from the wonderful event put on by charity:water for their UK supporters.

Thank you charity:water for all that you do, and welcome to the UK! You are so welcome here. Thank you for so effectively keeping to a clear vision of bringing everyone clean water, and also to the way that you make your supporters feel like family; connected to something so much bigger than themselves.

The recent event for the charity’s supporters in the UK was inspirational.

To be greeted when we arrived by the distinctive yellow water carriers, cheerfully held by eager volunteers – lighting up the way to go to the reception, filled with keen supporters. To hear Scott Harrison speak so compellingly about his vision for charity:water, why it started and his hopes for the future and the charity’s developments in the UK. To then be able to network with so many people working tirelessly to see social change, was brilliant.

To be gathered by the garden spaces within the Barbican, as the beautiful band’s African style melodies danced just under the conversation was enchanting. An evening where a distinctive yellow water carrier was never far away and the VR transported many to see the direct impact that the charity has had for one community in Ethiopia.

story after story of lives changed

Supporters heard story after story of lives affected, of destinies changed, simply by bringing accessible clean water.

To hear that even now, only one out of three schools not only don’t have clean water, but they don’t have toilets. Surely we can do better as a human race?

I’ll never forget the lady in Nigeria and the lesson the story brought – the selfless love of a mother in always putting her family first, and the joy that came when there was enough water for her to wash too. The impact encapsulated in her words “Now I feel beautiful, you’ve restored my dignity.”

The idea of using Google maps and the cloud to sync up the wells, so that supporters can see the impact and longevity of the work at any given time, helps so much with transparency in an age when charities and trust don’t always go hand in hand. To use data to better inform implementation.

The way that charity:water connect the best ideas from the innovation in the world around them, to inspire a generation to impact, leads to one heady inspiration mix, and a firm belief that we can do better.

It instils faith, to believe that we really can live to see EVERYONE with access to clean water.

be a changemaker

One image cannot relay the amount that this evening inspired me to do – to keep going, to strive for change, to make a difference, but the smile shown on my face as I looked up and saw clean water flowing down towards me is real.

I have supported charity:water for years, and love watching the journey that they’re on and the impact that they’re having.

If you haven’t yet heard of charity:water, please do check them out.

I hadn’t intended to write this piece, but when the charity shared the photo from the event, I wanted to give a little insight into the story behind the smile.

It feels important.

Just in case you would like to donate to further charity:water’s work, please visit this link: charity:water

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