I have just recently turned 32 years old. For the last four years, I have been pledging my birthday through charity:water to bring clean water to those who need it most.
This year is not an exception, and I am raising 1000 dollars for this campaign:
Please, donate and spread the word.
I have been fortunate enough to have been born in an environment where I haven’t had to suffer wars, natural disasters, famine, genocides or anything similar.
My family wasn’t rich, but it wasn’t poor either. At times we had more, while other times we had less, but we lacked neither food on the table nor water to drink.
Since I grew up on the inside of a family business, I don’t take money for granted. I have grown accustomed to the fact that you’re the master of your own destiny (finances), and have always been in control of my own money.
I started selling trading cards since I was twelve, first locally, then online, and when I learnt how to code, I did some freelancing. I also worked through all my uni years — against all internal code of not allowing students to do it — so I could have money to use it to my taste’s delight.
With all these experiences, I made enough money to live in Germany for over two years without having to worry, but eventually decided to come back to Barcelona and giving a try to more serious jobs. The rest of the story, you know it already.
All these possibilities, I didn’t earn them fully. Internet, university, trading cards, stable jobs, grants, eBay, and such were already there. I just needed to get hold of them and use them to my advantage.
However, not everyone is this lucky.
Too many people are born in rough environments, with no access to education, food on a regular basis, Internet, electricity or even running water.
Hell, not even clean water.
There are a million reasons why we could be more sensitive about how we use our water, but we should be even more sensitive about those who don’t have this possibility.
While too many people drink unfiltered water, like that of the above picture, the water in our toilets is perfectly clean.
Every day, about 1,400 children die from diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
I have also many reasons to donate my birthday to this good cause, but these are the most important:
I don’t need more things
We’re used to falling prey to the vicious circle of gifting because it’s a tradition.
We give presents for birthday, for the name day in some cultures, for Christmas (and their equivalents in other religions), when someone gets married or has a child, and a myriad other occasions.
If we think it through, it’s not because of sheer necessity. We do it because everyone else does it, so why shouldn’t we?
Think about the last ten presents you’ve given.
How many were really thought-through or covered a necessity vs. how many were just a mere formality?
You don’t need more things
We often complain about the capitalist system which force-feeds us into consumerism, yet we do little to fight it.
We live in an age of abundance and excess. The gap between those who have too much and those who have too few is broadening every second.
Do you really think your friend needs another pair of shoes? Can’t he do with the five or six he’s got already?
Wouldn’t you rather give them to someone who has no shoes?
Presents bring guilt
To every big & unpopular opinion, there’s always a cause.
If you’re raised in a Christian upbringing, guilt is all around you.
If you accept the present you’re given, you’ve got to give something back. Otherwise, you’re greedy. Therefore: guilt.
What’s more, if you accept it and you don’t like it, and either get rid of it or change it for something else that suits you better, you’ll feel guilty if the other person finds out.
If you do not accept it, you will make your friends feel bad about it, and then you’ll feel guilty.
Nothing comes for free in life, and even less so if there’s been an economic transaction somewhere in the process.
By accepting an unsolicited present, now I must carry the burden of having to gift something back to you.
Also, I have a very complicated taste in life, and tend not to like most of the things I’m given. I’ve gone minimalist in my life, so I try to take things out of my life, instead of in.
I don’t like this one, but let’s make an exercise of purely pragmatical thinking.
You were going to spend 20, 30 or even 50 dollars on buying me a gift. You were going to either buy it on the Internet, which will incur on some shipping fees on top of that, or you’ll go to the mall to buy it, which will take a significant amount of time; and time is money.
How about giving that money with just a few clicks and a couple of minutes? Even if you give as low as 10 dollars, I’ll be happy all the same.
Furthermore, by donating, you will make me happy and you will make some people immensely happy and healthier. And maybe, if the campaign is successful, they won’t have to worry about having clean water again in their lives.
On average, my past charity:water campaigns have given access to clean water to 30 or 40 people each.
I want to have an impact
Presents are to give and forget. At most, you will ask once “hey, did you use the new gloves I gave you for your birthday”? but that’s it.
Think about this: my first campaign ever served to create a well in Mozambique. I can see where my money has been spent and to what end.
You can see it here:
It takes about 21 months to build these infrastructures and report back about their impact. I am eager to see how have my other campaigns helped and what they’ve built with the money we collected.
When I will be on my deathbed, I won’t look back at how many running shoes or jewellery I had in my life. I am certain I will look back to what legacy have I passed down.
Nike will not remember me for having bought many running shoes during my life, but those people who received our donations will be eternally grateful — even if they don’t know me — and that’s enough for me.
I have chosen my fights
Everyone seems to have many fights for just causes. The more you have, the thinner you spread among all of them, and the less impact you have.
I have cherry-picked very few causes to fight for, and one of them is to get rid of thirst in the world.
Water should be an universal right, period.
I don’t want to be dragged out of my focus and will thus contribute solely to the things I am fighting for, to double-down on my impact.