“We can’t solve all the world’s problems, but we can do a small part of good.” My eyes passed over a room full of developers, engineers, analysts, sales reps, managers, directors, vice presidents, presidents, and founders intently listening to a stranger at the front of the room talking about water. Something so normal, so accessible… to us. What we take for granted as a commodity is not found without strain and labor for many people around the world. It turns out that only 1% of the water on this earth is available for individual consumption. The daily water use per person in the USA is 128 gallons. In contrast, lack of water is directly related to infant mortality, and by 2025, 18 billion people will live in countries with absolute water scarcity.
The man at the front of the room was Jim Hess, a volunteer with Living Water International (LWI). He presented to the Candoris team during our annual kickoff meeting on LWI’s mission of helping communities in developing countries create sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in response to the global water crisis. They strive to give people the basic dignity of a simple source of clean water in order to live their lives to the fullest.
In alignment with the Candoris mission of partnering with organizations to provide children with food, clean water, and access to education, Candoris recently partnered with LWI through the local Fairland Brethren in Christ Church to build a well for 250 people in the community of Pamplona outside of Zacatecoluca, El Salvador. El Salvador has a turbulent past especially in regard to access to drinkable water. In the 1980s, civil war broke out and raged on for 12 years, leaving nearly 60% of the population without clean water. The austere living conditions are even more pronounced for communities who suffer with lack of water. For every $1 invested in giving to LWI there is a $8-$20 return on investment in the form of saved time, improved utilization, increased productivity, and reduced healthcare costs within the communities that obtain the wells. Jim related to the Candoris team how a woman wept for joy at the opening of the hand pump well in Pamplona, because it meant that now her kids could attend school. For generations the children had the task of carrying water to their village, prohibiting them from receiving an education and therefore from obtaining jobs to provide for their own children. There is much more to a water well than water. As Jim put it, “It’s life, and life itself.”
On his trip across the El Salvadorian countryside to the pre-established well location, he saw a makeshift water well that was hand-dug, whose pump was constructed using an old bicycle and bike chain, whose handle came from a children’s toy tractor trailer set, and which was attached by washers. An ingenious construction…but poignant and humbling and heartbreaking that people go to these lengths just to obtain something so basic as water.
Throughout the duration of Jim’s presentation, the room full of professionals was silent, focused, sacred. For a few moments, maybe each person was putting themselves in the shoes of the dirty, barefoot children whose reality they saw on the screen.
Because what do duties or titles matter when you’re speaking to hearts? Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that behind the specialized role, behind the prestigious title, is a human longing to play a part in a greater story. At Candoris, our team what is the shared purpose of creating lasting value through skillful innovation. Philanthropic partnerships such as this one, the fruit of our work, is our team why.