Maggie: We open up a bottle or turn on the tap and boom!…Water.
“But the reality is that water is actually a very limited, finite resource.”
Maggie: For more than a billion people, safe drinking water doesn’t exist. That is about one out of every eight people worldwide, or more than three times the population of the entire United States.
Diseases from contaminated water kill more kids every day than AIDs, malaria and even wars combined. Access to clean water can change everything. Just ask Seth Maxwell.
“When you bring safe water into a community, it’s amazing what happens. Suddenly, you see disease rates drop by often upwards of 80% overnight. Suddenly you see child mortality rates drop by upwards of 90% overnight. Suddenly it means that kids don’t have to walk eight hours a day to haul water. They’re able to go to school; they’re able to get an education. It means that women don’t have to walk eight hours a day to haul water; they’re able to get jobs. Water changes everything.”
Maggie: Seth Maxwell is the founder of The Thirst Project, an organization which helps people in poor countries gets access to clean water. He is speaking to schools around the country, trying to get young people involved, like the students at Somerset Technical and Vocational School in New Jersey.
It is estimated that teenagers spend more than $200 billion a year on disposable income items – things like coffee, the movies, a new t-shirt. Seth puts that number into perspective.
“The estimated cost to end the global water crisis in the entire world is about $18 billion. We could single-handedly do that dozens of times annually with no outside group’s help. We have tremendous capacity.”
Maggie: Seth first discovered the power of water after seeing a friend’s photographs of people in Africa, drinking out of puddles and swamps, and dying of water related diseases.
“I got my friends together; we pitched in all the money we had between us, which at that point was about seventy bucks. We went to the grocery store, bought as many bottles of water as we could, and took them to the streets of Hollywood Boulevard and started giving away free water as a way to get people to talk to us.”
Maggie: Out of that $70 and Seth’s passion, The Thirst Project was born, raising more than $2.6 million in just four years. And that is just the beginning.
Why the importance on young people? Why reach out to students to help send your message?
“Students come up with ideas that I would have never thought of, like, whether it’s a dance for water, and a video game tournament for water. There’s a school in Orange County that for the last three years raised over twenty grand a year with a Halo tournament.”
Maggie: Why the importance on young people? Why reach out to students to help send your message?
“Students come up with ideas that I would have never thought of, like, whether it’s a dance for water, a video game tournament for water. There’s a school in Orange County that for the last three years raised over twenty grand a year with a Halo tournament.
“If I can just save $20, I can save a life. I thought, ‘wow, this is crazy, that’s two video games.’”
Maggie: I took, like, a forty minute shower this morning, and now I feel really guilty.
He said $20 dollars can save a person’s life. I’m wearing clothes that probably cost close to a hundred dollars. That is five people’s lives.
“And I’m asking you to join us. Not out of guilt, not out of societal obligations, not because your teacher made you come here, but because I genuinely believe that you want to; because I genuinely believe we were made for this, because for lack of a better or cheesier way to end things, you are going to change the world.”
- How many people in the world have a problem getting safe drinking water?
- Why is clean water important?
- What is the goal of The Thirst Project?