This article was created in collaboration with LifeStraw, a company that we’ve always supported and purchased products from, years before we partnered with them. All opinions and thoughts are our own.
With the end of the year fast approaching (can you believe 2019 is almost over?!) it’s easy to get swept up in the consumerism of the holidays. But amidst the chaos of Black Friday, gift shopping and the drone of Christmas carols that seem to start earlier every year, there is one saving grace – Giving Tuesday. This international holiday that was started in 2012 is quite simply, a day that encourages people to do good. And if that isn’t the most genuinely heartwarming antidote to over-consumerism, then I don’t know what is!
The concept is simple: every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, people, organizations and companies find a way to give back. Whether through donations, volunteering, acts of kindness or buying from social businesses, there are myriad ways to give on Giving Tuesday.
Real talk, though – it can get overwhelming. Just like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’ll probably get bombarded with ads from a lot of different organizations, looking for your support. And just like finding a good volunteering abroad gig, you’ll want to do some research to make sure your dollars are having a long lasting positive impact. That’s why we’re going to make this easy for you, and tell you who and why we’re supporting this Giving Tuesday.
LifeStraw’s Safe Water Fund
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we’ve been singing the praises of LifeStraw products long before we partnered with them on their giving back program. LifeStraw not only produces super useful water filtration products that will keep you from getting sick abroad, but they are committed to their mission of providing safe drinking water to those in need. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this company walks the walk. They use innovative technology and design, paired with strategic planning and distribution to provide the developing world with every human’s most basic need, water.
Growing up in the Bay Area in California, I had the privilege of never having to think twice about where my drinking water would come from. Go to the kitchen, grab a glass, get water from the sink. It’s so easy that we forget that millions of people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. 844 million people to be more precise. That’s over twice the US population, all without regular access to water that won’t make them sick.
What’s perhaps most frustrating about this issue is how preventable it is. Filtration devices like the LifeStraw products are proven to filter out bacteria, parasites and life-threatening illnesses. In fact, LifeStraw’s parent company, Vestergaard, is responsible for helping to reduce Guinea worm disease from 3 million cases in the 1980’s to only 25 in 2018 with the use of a simple pipe filter. In the next few years, this will be the first disease to ever be fully eradicated without a vaccine. The power of this technology is undeniable.
Where Your Donation Goes
So now that you know the impact of providing safe drinking water, what can we in the developed world do about it? Great question! This Giving Tuesday, LifeStraw is putting the call out for donations to their Safe Water Fund. This fund is a 501c3 that runs high-impact water programs, including providing safe drinking water to school children and disaster-impacted communities.
We’ve been fortunate enough to tag along on one of these programs as journalists to document the efforts. Last year LifeStraw used funds from its give back program, and donations from the Safe Water Fund to visit Chiapas, Mexico, delivering community water filters to schools in vulnerable communities. We visited rural schools with large indigenous populations.
I’ll never forget a visit to our last school in the mountains. A flurry of children dressed in colorful Mayan clothing swarmed our team as we delivered the filters. After the LifeStraw presentation on the importance of washing your hands and drinking safe water, we were shown the school’s water source. One of the teachers compared a cup of unfiltered water vs. the LifeStraw filtered water. There was a stark difference. I should note, that just because water appears clean doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink, and by the same token, just because water is a bit murky doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to drink. But the drinking water that had not been filtered had visible organisms wiggling around. It was unsettling to think that this had been their only water source until the LifeStraw filters had arrived.
This year LifeStraw went back to Mexico and used the Safe Water Fund to deliver filters in Mexican migrant centers near the US border. Working with the Department of Health, LifeStraw conducted visits to migrant centers in Juarez to assess needs on the ground. These centers are currently overfilled, many with migrants who arrived with the caravans that came north from Central America in February of 2019. These centers are mostly makeshift shelters created in churches, and are vastly under-equipped.
One of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, Juarez is plagued with violence. Delivering equipment to these extremely vulnerable communities is no easy feat, but the team was able to bring 8 LifeStraw Community filters to 6 different locations. With them, they also brought much needed goods like diapers, clean sheets and other sanitary items to the centers, including one LGBTQ+ center. You can read more about LifeStraw’s experience in the migrant centers here.
How to Donate
After doing extensive research and visiting the programs firsthand, we have no doubt that the Safe Water Fund is a deserving recipient for Giving Tuesday. One of our favorite things about donating to the Safe Water Fund is that you get to choose where you want your funding to go. We know that everyone has a cause that’s close to their heart. You can choose between programs like donating to give a mom and her new baby access to safe drinking water, as well as malaria prevention. Or give safe water to victims of disaster relief. Or you can donate to give safe drinking water to school kids all over the world. Each project is meaningful and will have a long lasting impact on these vulnerable communities.
Support the Safe Water Fund and choose the project that speaks to your heart by clicking here: http://bit.ly/dontforgettomove