Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Lighten The Darkness

I have decided that, from now on, I will follow every horrible story I post about with one about someone that is inspiring, someone that every so slightly raises my hopes for humanity. I don't want this blog to become tragedy-porn, and either way it is always important that there are people in this world we can aspire to be more like, not just people we can revile.

Today I am also going to focus on someone who is no longer with us, but is still a truly inspirational and amazing human being. Her name was Rachel, and at nine years old she was already totally awesome.

Rachel was your average nine-year-old. She loved Taylor Swift and had a secret crush on Justin Bieber, although she’d never admit it. She had a loving family and a heart that wanted to solve every problem she saw in this world. Once, she cut off all her hair and donated it to make wigs for kids who had cancer. So when she sat in church one day and heard Scott Harrison from charity: water give a talk about how kids her age in Africa didn’t have clean water to drink, she immediately decided to help. 

With her mom’s encouragement, she created a fundraising page on, telling her family and friends that she didn’t want presents for her ninth birthday. Instead, she asked them to donate $9, as she was turning 9. Rachel wanted kids like her to have clean water to drink.

She had a big goal: to raise $300 and give 15 people clean drinking water. She fell a little short, raising $220, and told her mom that she’d try harder next year.

A month later, Rachel was in a tragic car accident on highway I-90 near Seattle, Washington. A trailer had jack-knifed into a logging truck, sending logs tumbling down the freeway. More than a dozen cars were caught in the pile-up, and the trailer smashed into the back of Rachel’s car.

When the news spread about Rachel’s story and her birthday wish, people all around the world began to donate on her page. Some gave $9, some $19, leaving comments like “This is the rest of my month’s salary…..” A month later, 30,000 people had given more than $1.2 million.

Not only did she display more empathy and altruism at the age of nine that many people do in their entire adult lives, she also happened to pick a great charity. This is what I look for in a charity, and this is what makes this also a post about supporting them:

When we started charity: water, we made a bold promise to the general public — 100% of their donations would go directly to the field to fund water projects. We'd find another way to cover our operating expenses. And we'd even reimburse credit card fees when donations were made online.

We depend on private donors, foundations and sponsors to cover everything from staff salaries to basic office systems to office rent and supplies. These donors are some of our most dedicated: their investment fuels our long-term mission, our ability to scale as an organization and our mission to continue using 100% of public donations for water projects. 

Great girl, great cause. Feel your spirits rising ever so slightly. 

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