Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The photo above shows a remote village in Oghna, India that changed my life.

In the fall semester of my junior year in college, I went to India through a School for International Training (SIT) program. As part of that trip, I had a "homestay" for 3 nights with a village family. We spoke with the villagers in Hindi and through translators, shared meals with them and helped them to dig an irrigation ditch under the hot sun with rudimentary shovels and tools. We also danced alongside them at night, played with their kids and babies, laughed at the goats and helped them shuck corn. Pretty much we lived the same way people there had been living for thousands of years. Except that their lifestyle and village were under serious threat.

The village needed the irrigation because they had had three years of severe drought. In addition, their river was drying up because of a dam project to provide electricity to a nearby city. Their corn crop was so dry that they were down to only eating one meal per day. But still they would feed us first and refuse to eat until we said that we had enough.

This is why I care about the water issue. Because I've seen first hand what living without sufficient water is like.

When I returned to Duke in the spring quarter, I realized that there were real problems out there. Problems that have solutions. Problems that need people to work on them and that can be solved if only people cared enough to do something. That's why I got involved in the first start-up that I worked like crazy for - Sun Dance Genetics. A professor at Duke, had created a technology that could create drought resistant corn. We had the seeds sent through the UN to drought regions of Africa and India. It was the first time I had a real impact on solving problems in a significant way. And I was hooked ever since . . .

So this year, I'm giving my birthday up.

Dec. 4th, I'm turning 31 years old, and instead of asking for gifts, I'm asking for $31 or more from everyone I know. It's not going to me, though. All of it is going to build freshwater wells for people in developing nations.

A billion people in the world are living without clean water - but how much are they really living? Millions contract deadly diseases from contaminated water. 45,000 people will die this week alone. The lucky ones won't, but still walk hours each day to get dirty water to give to their families.

My birthday wish this year is not for more gifts I don't need; it's to give clean and safe drinking water to some of the billion living without it. I want to make my birthday matter this year.

Please join me. http://mycharitywater.org/chuck

please note: Because of charity: water's unique model, 100% of all donations go directly to direct water projects costs, and each donation is "proved" and tracked to the village it helped when projects are complete.