About 700 million people around the world lack access to safe, clean water. I know this number by heart but still find surprise and sadness at its magnitude. A glass of water that won't make you sick, a shower that will make you clean - these are basic dignities that every human should have. In all that humanity has achieved, how does the water crisis remain unsolved?
I've been honored to spend the last few years documenting Water.org's efforts to do just that. Witnessing the change in quality of life a family receives from having access to safe water has been a special experience. One that makes me feel big and small all at once.
Following are photographs of families and communities benefiting from Water's work as well as things that've caught my eye along the way.
Interviewing Semambo in her living room. Bombo, Uganda. I've found living rooms to be the same around the world. Family photos. Pretty things hanging to make you smile. Comfortable places to sit, rest, talk.
On a tour of her coffee farm, Semambo's pride in her coffee farm and business became obvious.
Semambo gathers water from her rain catchment system, just outside her home. This water is used for drinking, hygiene, and irrigation during the dry season. The loan she borrowed to build this system has already been paid off. All her water is now safe and free.
In and around Boditi, Ethiopia.
A public water collection point. A long walk for rain and runnoff to be carried home and boiled.
Birr are counted at a micro finance bank in Boditi. Small loans, a few hundred dollars, are borrowed and used to fund construction of water systems like Semambo's rain catchment tank. Then, with time saved from daily water collection, the women of these communities are free to seek employment, start their own business, and/or ensure their children receive an education.
Abusha Junior School, Bomboa, Uganda. Heart felt so big this day.
Rebecca and her granddaughter collecting water at her connection just outside their home in Bombo, Uganda. She told us she shares her water with her neighbors because she remembers what it was like when she did not have a connection.
Abidjatta-Shall National Park, Ethiopia. The men above are using the hot springs to cook potatoes.
The incredible strength of the women who face the water crisis every day.
I wonder who you are, reading these words and looking at these photos. How do people find my work and choose to follow it. To click my links and scroll so far.
I wonder if we are alike somehow. A shared aesthetic or perhaps a common point of view. Some ethereal connection made digitally along the way.
I wonder if we feel the same, somehow, from time-to-time. A curiosity about purpose and what it means to be a human, living, in the year 2017. The world feels both beautiful and dark constantly, at the same time. An indefatigable spinning around dread and delight.
I believe it only takes a few small steps to put your feet steady, still, standing on delight. We’re both here now, somehow. Let's do something together.
If these photographs moved you, if you felt a connection with these women and their families, I'd love for you to take the small step of donating at least $25 to Water.org here. In exchange for your kindness I will send you an 8x10 print of your choice of the neat giraffes below. Forward me your email receipt from Water with your address at email@example.com.
If you’re reading this today or next month or next year, this offer stands. We’ll still be here together.
Thank you for finding me. Really.