844 million people around the world do not have access to clean water, which is equivalent to 1 of every 10 people. In most rural communities, it is the women and children’s responsibility to retrieve water for the family. This means that the women and children end up walking about 6 kilometers to the nearest water source and usually carry about 40 pounds of water. The time it takes to do this, takes away from the ability to attend school or have a job. The most difficult statistic to learn is that every day, more than 800 children under the age of 5 die due to water -borne illnesses.
I never knew about the world water crisis and how it affected so many lives until I found Wine to Water through my college professor while doing a project on non-profit organizations. It was suddenly my junior year of college and I felt so lost and confused on what I was doing with my life. I randomly decided to get online and go to winetowater.com to look into it. That night, I applied to a volunteer trip for 14 days in Nepal for December. I had no idea what to expect or what would become of this experience. 3 years later, I have completed 4 volunteer trips, raised thousands of dollars, and provided clean water to hundreds of people around the world.
Wine to Water is a non-profit organization that was created to build relationships and change lives through clean water. In the volunteer program, you could find yourself digging wells, making ceramic water filters, educating communities, and interacting with individuals all over the world, learning their stories.
After my first trip to Nepal in December of 2016, my outlook on life changed. I was touched by the stories of people in the communities I worked in. Some people would look at these communities and say “these people have absolutely nothing”, and that is where they are completely wrong. Sure, they lack in materialistic items such as televisions, cars, clothing, toys, kitchen utensils, etc. However, they have a lot of what we do not in first world countries, which is community and pure, genuine happiness. It was incredible to see these people who had so little, live so happily. This was the moment I realized that these people deserved way more than what I was ever just given in life and I would do every possible thing that I could to provide them with whatever they needed.
Everyone always talks about the “travel bug”, well, I caught the “volunteer bug”. I found myself talking to every possible person I came in contact with about my experience in Nepal. I convinced a friend of mine to sign up for another trip with me and so, I took her to Nepal with me on another trip in May of 2017. What do you know, she caught the “volunteer bug” as well and talked me into going to Dominican Republic in February of 2018 for yet another trip. I spontaneously completed one more trip in June of 2018 after graduating college, before moving to Ukraine for the Peace corps.
At this point in my life, I am living back in the United States and working as a flight attendant for a major US airline. I am able to travel the world every day and meet incredible people everywhere that I go. I am always thinking of ways that I can make an impact on the world and still have plans to volunteer with Wine to Water as well as finding new organizations to get involved with. My passion for volunteer work has continuously grown over the years and has shaped who I am today.
By our friend, Hannah Baist Bliss