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The Value of a Tanka

As a skilled mason, Tamaram rises before the sun most mornings and makes the 100-kilometer journey to the neighboring villages of Balesar and Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India to get to work on time. With a wife and five kids at home, the majority of his time is spent working long days to ensure he is making enough money to provide for them all.

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While Tamaram is at work, it is the responsibility of his wife and daughters to collect water for their family. And in Rajasthan, this is no easy task.

Because the Thar Desert is mostly saline, most groundwater is unsuitable for drinking. Instead, many families in the region have to rely on open ponds or government-filled reservoir tanks for their water supply. But because the demand for water is so high (especially during the summer months) many of these reservoir tanks often stand empty and the ponds dry up.

To supplement their water supply during the dry season, Tamaram’s family pays to have water trucked in and stored in a kuccha tanka outside their home. Kuccha tankas are small, unlined pits in the ground that are surrounded by mud. Because these pits are poorly protected, much of the water either seeps into the ground or evaporates away. The water that remains is almost always contaminated, and many of Tamaram’s family members have fallen sick from drinking it.

Every year, Tamaram would have to spend at least 25-30% of his annual income on having this water trucked to his home. And with such a large family to provide for, this often meant he was never able to put any of his money aside for savings.

Additionally, during the summer months when the demand was high and supply was low, water would become so expensive to truck in that Tamaram would have to borrow money or take water on credit and pay it back when he was able to find more work.

That was until our local partner, the Jal Baghirathi Foundation, stepped in.

JBF works to change the story for families like Tamaram’s by training and supporting them to construct a permanent rainwater harvesting tanka. These tankas (unlike the previous kuccha tankas) are built out of stone and cement to maximize the collection and storage of clean and safe water.

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JBF’s program is demand-driven. This means families have to opt-in and contribute to both the cost of materials and the construction process.

Tamaram was tired of seeing his family suffer from the dirty water they were drinking and decided to use his masonry skills from work to partake in JBF’s program and construct a brand new tanka for his family in just 22 days.

Now, with a clean water tanka right in their backyard, Tamaram no longer has to spend his hard earned money on trucking tanker water into his home. Instead, he can save this extra 25-30% of his income each year to help take care of his family.  

For Tamaram’s family, having this tanka is just as important as the food they eat, the clothing they wear, and the house in which they live. It serves as a sustainable source of clean and safe water all year long. And it is an asset that will stay with them for generations to come.

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5 Accounts to #FollowFriday From the Field

Are you tired of “liking” that same picture of avocado toast on Instagram again and again? Well, you’re in luck! In honor of #SocialMediaDay, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite accounts for you to follow to freshen up your feed. Check out these 5 accounts of our local partners in the field to get a first-hand look at how your generosity is being put to work in the field.


1. @pandeyumesh

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From videos of welcome ceremonies in the field to pictures of team dinners back at the office, Umesh’s account offers an exciting behind the scenes look at our work in Nepal. He has been the Director of Nepal Water for Health for 25 years and, so far, has led the organization to bring clean water to over 1.8 million people! In addition to that, he is also an amazing soccer player and a famous Nepali singer! He’s won the national soccer league three times and has even had his songs featured in Nepali movies. If you were looking for a new jack of all trades to follow, Umesh is it.


2. @sisaybiruk

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Sisay has worked in Ethiopia with our local partner REST since 2014. For his first three years there, he was a cluster lead for Wahis Mai, our local maintenance and repair team. His job required him to travel to 4-5 sub districts in Tigray every week and help monitor and conduct repairs and the installation of sensors on charity: water projects. And his favorite mode of transportation? A charity: water yellow motorcycle! Check out his Instagram to see some great shots of him in the field riding through the streets of Tigray repping charity: water every step of the way.


3. @indianajim

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With 40 years of experience in the Central African Republic, Jim Hocking is the founder of our local partner in the CAR, Water for Good. With an extreme passion for Africa, Jim has also worked in the DRC, Cameroon, Chad, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone. If you want to be taken on a photo tour of Sub-Saharan Africa, Jim is the person to follow. From pictures of communities coming together to build water projects to seeing the results afterward, you can follow the entire journey to clean water just by scrolling through his feed.


4. @gebreselassie2

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If you want a true inside look at our work in Tigray, Ethiopia, you need to follow our friend and colleague, Gebreselassie! He is a hydraulic and geotechnical engineer who has more than 20 years of experience in the water sector. And, he’s the only charity: water employee who works directly on the ground every day. You’ll not only get a behind the scenes look at REST’s work in the field, you’ll also get a sneak peak into what goes on during our amazing staff and donor trips to the field! 

Disclaimer: You may or may not find some great dancing videos…


5. @cwyellowthunder

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In 2011, thousands of you joined our September Campaign to fund a drilling rig so our local partners in Ethiopia could drill more wells and bring more people clean water. We promised when the rig was on the ground, we’d track it on a map and show you proof of it in action. And that’s exactly what we did. Now, you can follow our drilling rig, Yellow Thunder, on Twitter and see which communities we’re helping bring clean water to each and every day!


Our partners on the ground are the local heroes who make all our work possible, and we want to make you all feel more connected to them. So click that follow button and add some inspiration to your feed. We promise you won’t regret it!

Our new home in the UK

Since 2006, with the help of more than one million generous supporters, charity: water has funded 23,377 water projects around the world. Enough to bring clean and safe drinking water to over 7.1 million people.

Today, we’re taking a big step toward doing even more.

We are thrilled to announce our official expansion into the UK. By registering as a UK charity, we hope to not only increase awareness for charity: water throughout the UK and Europe but also expand our supporter base and seize more opportunities globally.

Over the past ten years, our UK supporters have done so many amazing things for clean water. Jonny SUP boarded across the English Channel. Jon and Caitlin carried a Jerry Can around on their travels to spark conversations about the water crisis. Eight-year-old Lulu Grace wrote a book and sold it all over the Isle of Man for £10 a copy to raise money for charity: water.

The impact of these incredible supporters has already benefited the lives of so many people around the world. And now they’ll be able to help even more through Gift Aid.

Those living outside the UK may not be aware that donations made by UK taxpayers can be worth 25% more through Gift Aid - an income tax relief designed to benefit charities. Which means when we say 100% of donations will fund clean water projects, that number actually becomes 125% in the UK.

Last week, we celebrated the launch of charity: water UK with a beautiful reception at St. James’s Palace in London, hosted by TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York.


It was truly a special night spent with an incredible group of old friends and new ambassadors. And an amazing start to this new chapter.

We look forward to what the future holds for our new home in the UK with this incredible supporter base by our side. 

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Dad Characteristics We Love!

Over the past decade, we’ve seen so many incredible dads demonstrate passion, generosity, and creativity in support of clean water. This Father’s Day, we want to celebrate these everyday heroes who are instilling awesome qualities in their children. Here are five dad characteristics we absolutely love.

1. Creativity

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Brady Phelps is a father of two kids who really love pancakes. And not just normal pancakes. Fun ones like portraits of Obama and Taylor Swift. In 2015, Brady decided to turn his dad-super-power into a fundraising campaign for clean water. And boy did he blow us away. From Van Gogh’s Starry Night to Finding Nemo, “Pancake Dad” (as he became known) raised more than $53,000 for clean water. His creativity and passion for making his kids smile turned into a movement that brought smiles to kids around the world.

2. Generosity

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Stephen Rose instilled a legacy of giving in his kids on day one. Literally. To celebrate the birth of his three children, Stephen sponsored a water project in each of their names. Now, thanks to his amazing generosity, entire communities in India and Cambodia will no longer have to drink dirty water. And Stephen’s kids will grow up knowing that their dad’s big heart helped change lives for people around the world.

3. Leadership

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Ethan Beard is the ultimate leadership role model for his two kids. Since 2011, his dedication to our cause has served as inspiration for his children, Beckett and Willa. The two have now taken it upon themselves to lead the charge of a new generation that demands a better world. From giving presentations about the water crisis to their brownie troops and kindergarten classes, to organizing water walks, Beckett and Willa have proven that even the smallest hearts can make a big difference. And it all stemmed from an amazing dad who wanted to show them the way.

4. Passion

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Micah Slade and his family have been creating extravagant holiday card videos for the past six years, and they’re one of our annual highlights. From underwater renditions of Elvis’s ‘Blue Christmas’ to huge family food fights, the passion and dedication that goes into these videos is remarkable. But what makes them extra special is that the Slade family also runs a fundraising campaign alongside each video and has now raised over $11,000 for clean water! We’re so grateful for dads like Micah who use their fun and passionate personalities to help change the world.

5. Support

Nishant Kaushik is the father of an amazing 9-year-old boy named Arav. Arav has traded gifts for donations and run a birthday campaign in support of clean water for the past four years! Over the course of his campaigns, his incredibly supportive dad has helped him create videos that have not only inspired our staff, but also inspired at least four of his friends and family to create birthday campaigns of their own. Nishant’s endless guidance and support throughout Arav’s years of campaigning is so inspiring, and we are truly amazed by his commitment to helping his son solve the water crisis.


Kindness. Joy. Commitment. There are so many amazing qualities that we inherit from our dads. This Father’s Day, let’s demonstrate those characteristics in return.

Give clean water in honor of the incredible dads in your life and help change lives for families around the world.

Give For Dad

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Seeing is Believing - charity: water Staff Trip 2017

We’ve read about it. We’ve heard about it. We’ve even seen countless videos of it. But in that moment when I watched as a rig drilled down to hit water in the village of Mai Ayni, Ethiopia with my very own eyes, everything changed. We all celebrated together as the water shot high into the air and I stood in awe as I realized that there is nothing more powerful than being in the field to truly understand the impact that is being made on the ground.

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Last month, I had the honor of traveling to the Tigray Region of Ethiopia with 16 of my fellow colleagues, and friends, to experience the work of charity: water firsthand. It was an incredibly meaningful and memorable trip full of more laughs, tears, injera, and Ethiopian coffee than any of us could have imagined.

For most of us, this was our first time traveling to the field with charity: water. It was a diverse group made up of everyone from engineers and accountants to designers and fundraisers. Since our day to day jobs aren’t directly involved with programs in the field, this was an especially unique experience that allowed for us to truly reconnect with charity: water’s mission.

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We expected through the course of the trip we’d learn more about our work on the ground, see our local partners in action, and connect with the amazing people in the communities we work in. But what we got out of it was so much more.

Over the course of our travels, three things stood out above all else…

1. The Real Impact

We started the trip by visiting a community that still lacks access to clean water. Located on the top of a mountain in the Ahferom District, this community was nearly inaccessible. As our cars crawled precariously up the highlands of Tigray (and even got stuck a few times), we were in awe of just how remote the communities we work in truly are.

It was in this community that we began to see the real need. A large, deep hole in the ground hidden beneath low trees and thorn-filled bushes was the entire community of 1,500 people’s water source. It was filled with dirty, brown water that they have to share with livestock.

But despite these conditions, one thing was constant: the will of the community members to keep their dreams alive. We learned that the road leading up to this community was newly constructed, finally giving them hope that help and a better future was on its way.

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During the trip, we had the privilege of traveling to five rural communities throughout Tigray. Communities that had newly constructed water points, one that would soon have one, and even one that received clean water before our very eyes. We participated in water walks, were invited into people’s homes, and even got to have personal conversations with local community members to truly understand the difference clean water was making in their lives. Beautiful moments were shared during these conversations and it is a feeling that will stay with us forever. 

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2. Local Commitment

True global impact requires local commitment, knowledge, and expertise. After spending the week with members of the REST team, we were incredibly impressed with each and every one of them. They so obviously have a passion for charity: water’s mission, and work their hardest every day to fully realize its potential.

At one of our site visits, we had the opportunity to see the repair of a broken well firsthand. We watched as the Wahis Mai team (our local maintenance program that works to keep water flowing at all our water points in Ethiopia), alongside the community members, joined together to keep water flowing for this village in Debre Hiwot, Ethiopia. We learned about the important role water committees and the local government play in ensuring the long-term sustainability of each water project. They work tirelessly to put measures in place for the continued maintenance and repair of these projects. Without this local team, ensuring sustainability of charity: water projects would be impossible.

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3. Joy and Love

The unconditional sense of joy and love in these communities was unparalleled. This was evident in every interaction we experienced. Throughout each of our site visits, we were welcomed by entire communities with singing, dancing, endless amounts of popcorn, and hundreds of warm, appreciative smiles.

Community leaders would share their passion and commitment to the water projects and express how our support is helping them achieve their dreams of a better future. There was hardly a dry eye among the charity: water team as we clearly saw again and again how transformational clean water was for these people. We all learned a great lesson on that point and came home with a much broader appreciation of the world around us and the joy in every day.  

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I left Ethiopia with real world proof of the impact of clean water; proof that goes beyond what I ever could have imagined by just looking at numbers or hearing stories. Having seen the impact firsthand, I now wake up every day with a newfound appreciation for the work that we do, knowing that it leads to transformational and sustainable outcomes in the lives of people all around the world. And I know that I speak for the entire charity: water team that joined me on the trip when I say we are incredibly grateful for this experience and are all better because it.

Written by Ameerah Siddiqi 

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