Desmond Tutu’s comment that the person who thought they were too small to make a difference had never been in bed with a mosquito was reinforced this evening by an email I received that referred to the Ryan’s Well project. Ryan decided at the age of six that he would do what he could to change the world.
‘In January 1998, 6-year-old Ryan Hreljac listened intently when his grade one teacher talked about the plight of people in Africa who had to walk many kilometers every day just to fetch water, the most basic element for human survival. Ryan was shocked and decided he needed to build a well for a village in Africa. He ran home from school and begged his parents for $70 – the amount he thought was needed to drill a well. They eventually agreed to let him do extra chores to earn the money. Four months later, Ryan’s completed the task, but that was just the beginning of the journey.
Ryan has become a compelling voice for water-poor people in the developing world. His story has inspired many to take responsibility for the woes of the world, whether in their own communities, or like Ryan, in far away places. He has helped raise over $1 million and supported more than 120 water and sanitation projects in eight developing countries, seven of which are in Africa.
Since he began his mission, Ryan’s touching commitment to Africa, at such a young age and from so far away, has received a great deal of media attention. Although Ryan is actually quite shy (until you get to know him!) this type of interest pleases him because the plight of Africa also gets attention through his story. A lot of people have heard his message already – more than 100 million at last count – through speaking engagements, awards presentations, appearances on talk shows and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and on websites.
Ryan’s partners and supporters include government agencies, various technical organizations in the field, private sector companies, and individual philanthropists.
Ryan has also delivered his “power of one” message to a large number of people of influence including leading environmentalists, heads of state, royalty, and religious leaders.
Ryan has spoken to small classrooms and to thousands of people at a time at schools, service clubs, universities, and conferences, always with the message that people everywhere deserve the convenience of something to which most of us give no conscious thought: clean water.’
Check out www.ryanswell.ca