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An EASTER PLEA FROM SCOTT HARRISON

Dear Friends,

We just went live with a fun promotion for Easter, and we need your help!

Our team has worked hard to come up with eight super clever E-card ideas. Shell out a few bucks for a card that builds wells in Africa and send it to someone you care about. You¹ll also give someone you¹ve never met in Africa clean water ...

You can also forward the invite and web address to your friends, and suggest they do something small for those in need of clean water.

Please help us build 5 wells and transform 5 villages in Africa. The price tag is $20,000 and 100% of the money raised goes to provide clean water to people in desperate Need.

The link is http://www.charityis.org/easter

Happy Easter!

(Please read all about Scott Harrison’s Charity: Water below-the ed.)

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When a hip, young New York City promoter of top clubs and fashion events named Scott Harrison surprised his friends by leaving his comfortable lifestyle and lucrative career to become a volunteer staff photojournalist aboard a floating hospital with Mercy Ships, a humanitarian organization which offers free medical care in the world’s poorest nations, it was not clear that something big was about to happen. After all, lots of spoiled brats love to show off by pretending to care about various causes.

However, in Harrison’s case, something big was about to happen, something so big in fact that a billion lives could be affected. So what could that possibly be? Surprisingly, the answer is –water.

What Harrison discovered as he toured Africa with Mercy Ships, was that millions of people had no access to this natural resource that all of us take for granted. Here in the US, we’re accustomed to 20 minute showers, back yard pools, and expensive, boutique water in bottles, but many Sub-Saharan African people have no access to safe water at all. Many village people, including women and children, walk more than 3 hours every day to fetch water that is likely to make them sick. Sadly, of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90% are children under 5 years old.

As Harrison relates in his online blog (http://www.charityis.org/mission-story.htm), “I was utterly astonished at the poverty that came into focus through my camera lens. Often through tears, I documented life and human suffering I’d thought unimaginable. Our medical staff would hold patient intake “screenings” and thousands would wait in line to be seen, many afflicted with deformities even Clive Barker hadn’t thought of. Enormous, suffocating tumors - cleft lips, faces eaten by bacteria from water-borne diseases. I learned many of these medical conditions also existed here in the west, but were taken care of - never allowed to progress.”

He continues, “Over the next eight months, I met patients who taught me the meaning of courage. Slowly suffocating to death for years and yet pressing on, praying, hoping, surviving. It was an honor to photograph them. It was an honor to know them.”

Once aware that conditions like this existed on our planet, Harrison leapt into action, founding charity: in August, 2006, a nonprofit organization stimulating greater global awareness about extreme poverty, educating the public, and provoking compassionate and intelligent giving, especially to charity: water. charity: water sells $20 bottles of drinking water at events, clubs, offices and online, and uses 100% of the money to partner with water relief agencies like Living Water International, Concern Worldwide US, Healing Hands International, and Water For People, which build wells in impoverished areas.

In his blog, Harrison continues, “Since charity: was founded and began activity we have provided clean and safe drinking water for more than 31,000 people by the construction and rehabilitation of freshwater wells. Now, through the work of these exemplary humanitarian organizations we’re building 65 wells that will give close to 100,000 people clean and safe drinking water.” He concludes, “We believe access to clean water is a fundamental right. And we’re doing something about that.”

This writer encountered charity: water at Sundance Film Festival, in a small gallery on Main Street. And it was clear from the beginning that though the space was small, the message was huge. A poignant film of African Villagers collecting filthy water in plastic bottles contrasted dramatically with another film showing happy children drinking clean water flowing through a well’s spout. Another showed a well being built; a modern truck that appears to be from outer space arrives in a primitive village and begins the task of digging a well. Bottles of charity: waterwere stacked around the gallery, and people were carrying buckets of water, demonstrating how heavy water is to carry for a $20 donation.

Harrison describes the scene, “More than 1500 visited the gallery during the 5-day run, and some wept at the images and stories of those without access to clean water. Kevin Bacon, Billy Baldwin, Keri Russell, Tim Hutton and Dakota Fanning supported us, but the generosity among the Park City locals was the real story. Amidst a festival of schwag [at Dish, we call it swag] (logoed stuff given away for free by companies) we thought we’d be lucky to sell enough $20 charity: water to build a well or two ($6000 - $8000) but instead, we brought home $23,200! Enough for 6 wells in Ethiopia, or 15 wells in Liberia (the newest water project we’re developing.)”

Harrison says, “We’re a bit taken aback really, at how much we’ve been able to accomplish in less than 6 months and are extremely excited for the future. With your help, we’ve been able to raise more than $500,000. We have already finished 6 wells serving 30,000 in Bobi, Uganda. Next week, we’ll start granting money to our four partners on the ground in Africa to build and rehabilitate another 65! Thousands of people in Malawi, Uganda, Central African Republic and Ethiopia will drink clean and safe water for the first time. Thousands of kids will enjoy better health and have an opportunity to attend school. There’s really nothing else we’d rather do. Except more.”

He concludes, “The dictionary defines charity as simply the act of voluntarily giving to those in need. The word comes from the latin “caritas,” or simply, love. In Colossians 3, the Bible instructs readers to ‘put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.’”

“Although I’m still not sure what that means, I love the idea. To wear charity. Join us as we explore living differently.”

To find out more, or to donate to charity: water to help build wells in Africa, go to www.charityis.org

Please note that March 22,2007 is World Water Day!

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 93 - September 0437
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