EPISODE 249: “ENCORE Episode: charity water: An Extraordinary Story Of Service And Humanity”
This is an unusual podcast episode and one I feel will be both educational and inspirational to many.
A few months back my Fall Transformational Coaching Program participated in a campaign to raise funds for a global charity called charity: water. charity: water brings water infrastructure to remote villages in the world where there is no water.
I was blown away by the extraordinary generosity of my group. In just one week we raised $124,000 for charity: water and we changed the lives of many people, especially women, for a generation.
In this episode I interviewed Scott Harrison, he’s the founder of charity: water.
Scott has an interesting story. As you’ll hear, he went from a nightclub promoter to someone who created a charity that’s doing extraordinary things in the world!
Initially, I wanted to interview him to hear his personal story so others could be inspired and learn from it and it turned into a segment about charity: water, which candidly, we should all hear.
It’s mind-blowing the number of women in the world who spend an entire day just gathering and carrying water for their family. You’ll hear some extraordinary stories in this interview.
In the end, Scott did share how he learned to live his life and that is exactly what I wanted to come across to you. Living your life for things greater than yourself. Living your life in service.
Living your life for others is the surest way to create an extraordinary life for yourself.
You are where your attention is.
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You’re listening to the Transform your Life from the Inside Out podcast. This episode is titled Christmas, water and AYNI. Now, why am I talking about Christmas water and All in one episode. This is actually an Encore episode last year or earlier this year, I did an interview with a guy named Scott Harrison. Scott is the founder and CEO of charity water. What charity water does is they go to remote places in the world that have no running water and no infrastructure for running water. And they fund through charitable contribution, meaning people fund charity, water, and then they use that to build infrastructure. They build water, you know, infrastructure in places in the world that have no water. And. My company and my tribe has supported him for some time now. And whether doing. As a matter of fact, in the past year or a little over that. We’ve raised about $240,000 for charity water. What I want to share in this episode is, and the reason I’m doing this it’s around Christmas time, 2022. And I want to talk a little bit about, very quickly about Christmas, about the mythology of Christmas about giving. And then obviously the episode with charity water. So let’s talk about Christmas first okay. Many people believe, especially in the Western world, that Christmas is a Christian holiday. That is not correct. Christmas is not a Christian holiday. Actually the originations of Christmas are it’s paganism. Christmas is a pagan holiday. That corresponds to the winter solstice. Now, I don’t really want to talk about that, but I want to talk about something that a lot of you have in your house right now. Is you have a Christmas tree? Have you ever wondered why, why do we put a tree in our house and evergreen and put a star on top?
Well, the short story is that the tree is believed to be the strongest tree and the forest at the time of the summer solstice. And it can withstand really cold environments. So that’s the reason that Christmas tree is, were picked to play the role of Christmas tree at this particular time of year. Now in paganism and mythology, it’s understood. That tree basically is a metaphor. It’s a representation of the God of nature. Well, maybe not even a metaphor, but a representation of the God of nature and about Santa Claus. Okay. Which is why, you know, Uh, part of this episode about Santa Claus.
There was a book written back in 1995. And the book was titled when Santa was a Shaman. And it’s believed. In occultism and mythology. That Santa is actually the God of nature. And further about Christmas and about water and about giving and about AYNI. I’ll talk about irony in a moment. You know, at Christmas people offer gifts, but if you ever really stopped to ask yourself why. Why do we, you know, why do we have a tree in the house? And then why do we put gifts under the tree? And what I learned as a kid, I grew up in a Christian household. What I learned is, Hey, Santa Claus came and we have the tree and Santa Claus brings you gifts. If you’re a good kid. Which, by the way, that’s what I call one of the original sins. Human beings are taught from a very early age. You’re either good or bad. And then it’s perpetuated throughout the early childhood. If you’re good, Santa is going to bring your presents. And if you’re bad, Santa is not going to bring your presence, whole different topic and a whole different, you know, Episode. But that’s what we’re taught. You’re good or bad. And Santa Claus is going to be the judge of that.
Well, as I said, Santa Claus is believed to be the God of nature in Pagan mythology. And the trees under the the presence, not the tree. Sorry. The presents under the Christmas tree. Were believed. To be offerings. Actually it’s believed that the gifts were actually blessed and then offered to other people. And that in itself is the spirit of giving. You know, many people in the west think to some degree that Christmas is about giving gifts and the wise men and all these kinds of things. And it’s not that because the true story of Christmas precedes Christianity.
But the point is giving now AYNI. I have a couple of episodes on and here on the podcast, I, AYNI is the reciprocity of life. Plain and simple, I’ve set it over a bazillion times and we can hear it a billion bazillion times, but until we get it, we don’t get it. Speaking of getting the Beatles song. We get what we give. And most of us without recognizing this on ourself. And I’m actually looking at myself as well, many years ago. I used to think. Wow, I’m a very generous person. And what I recognized is yes, even today, people will say like, even my partner was recently told someone, one of the things I like best about Jim is that he’s very generous. A lot of people talk about giving and helping. But he actually does it. And I used to always think of myself many years ago when I didn’t have a lot of money as I’m a giver. What I recognized is that I was a selfish giver. What I mean by that is where I worked from. Is I work from, well, I will take care of me first. And when I take care of me then, and only then will I help other people?
What I learned over the years. Is if I think back to 30 years ago, when I heard Zig Ziglar’s say the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, and he said to get what you want in life, all you have to do is help enough people get what they want, which means in some way, giving or serving other people first. Many years ago, 20 years ago, when I lived in New York city, I had a client. His name was Raphael. His last name doesn’t matter. He was a Venezuelan oil billionaire. He, and I got along very well and he said, Hey Jim, one day out of the blue, he said, Hey, Jim, Let’s set you up in business. Let’s get you an office here at Rockefeller center, and I want to set you up in business.
And one day I said, Raphael. How come you want to help me? And this is what he said. He goes, I’m not just helping you, I’m helping myself because when I help you. And you actually do what you do in the world and grow your business. I will own a part of it. And inadvertently through helping you, I will help myself. So where I work from. Is the podcast is a great example. This is free for you to listen to this. And I know for a fact, because I’ve heard it for years and I know what I put into it, I bring really good content into this podcast. If you would, please please share this with people that you know, that you think will benefit.
But I know that I bring life-changing content because my team gets emails every day. About how the content here changes people’s lives. That is me giving, because I know that if I give enough gifts, meaning if I give enough to people. Kind of like in the spirit of Christmas, if I give enough the reciprocity of life, which is AYNI, it’s going to come back to me. So in this episode talking to Scott, I wanted to talk more about Scott and how he did what he did. And he was really, as you can tell, really passionate about charity water. I understand that. Here’s the thing. No, even though, you know, as you’re listening, listen to the story because it’s very powerful. Listen to the interview.
And at the end it talks about giving. I can’t say this enough. If you want more in life, you must give more in life, you must create more value for other people. A lot of people in the world right now are struggling with money. And they do not need to be. This is what I tell people in my money programs and my money masterclass, which are for a couple of times per year. Here’s something that I say no one has a money problem. You listening right now. If you’ve got money problems, you don’t have money problems. What you have is an exchange problem. Money is simply a medium of exchange. And if you don’t have the money that you want in life, You’re not exchanging enough through the medium of money to get what you want. Which means you’re not helping enough people and charging them. So that they’ll pay you. You’re not helping them get what they want and they pay you for that to bring more money into your life.
You do not have a money problem. You have a an exchange problem. And that’s a giving problem. So anyway, The reason again, I’m airing. This episode is please listen to the story. It’s the perfect time of the year. And it’s about giving and giving from the heart and giving literally in a soulful way to help make the world a better place. Enjoy.
Hi, I’m Jim Fortin, and you’re about to start Transforming your Life from the Inside Out with this podcast. I’m widely considered the leader in Subconscious Transformation. And I’ve coached super achievers all around the world for over 25 years. Here, you’re going to find no rah rah motivation, and no hype. Because this podcast is a combination of Brain Science, Transformational Psychology, and Ancient Wisdom, all rolled into one to take your life to levels, you’ve never thought possible. If you’re wanting a lot more in life, to feel better, to heal, to have peace of mind, to feel powerful and alive, and to bring more abundance and prosperity into your life. And this podcast is for you. Because you’re going to start learning how to master your mind and evolve your consciousness. And when you do that, anything you want, then becomes possible for you. I’m glad you’re here.
Jim Fortin: Okay. So Scott, thank you for talking with us today. I really appreciate you sharing what you’ve done and specifically how other people can make a difference in the world. Like you have so welcome.
Scott: Thanks. And we’re so grateful for what you and your tribe have done for the cause of clean water. You’ve got some deeply compassionate, caring people. So we’re grateful to an opportunity and great opportunity to be on and share more.
Jim Fortin: Yeah, we definitely want to learn more. One of my coaches when I said, hey guys, because we have been supporting feeding America.org, and then we did Heifer International and I’m like, We have such a global tribe. We needed to do something that affects people all over the world, not just in the states or one part of the world, but we can all participate in. And one of my coaches said, Charity Water, and I’m like, okay. I looked at it and I’m like, okay. And it makes sense to me because I’m a conservationist I’m going to drives me crazy when people hop in the shower. Not that I watched people shower, but they shower for an hour, and it’s they leave their water on. And water is, we’re running out of water on this planet as know,
Scott: The precious resource precious resource.
Jim Fortin: And we humans abuse it, and it just blows my mind, but I’m like, okay, we’re going to do this. And then when we did my tribe hopped in and in one week, I think we raised $112,000 for you guys. So let’s back up here. What is your story for people listening?
Scott: Yeah, sure. So I guess I’m an unlikely humanitarian. I was raised in Philadelphia and a middle-class family when I was four. There was this terrible health tragedy, where my mom got carbon monoxide gas poisoning in the house that we just moved into. So it, it had a leaking furnace and she, we’d just moved. She was unpacking the boxes. She was indoors fixing up the house. I was going to school. My dad was going to work and one day, New Year’s day actually in 1980, she walked across the bedroom and she crumbled to the ground unconscious while she was the Canary in the coal mine. And a long series of blood tests led to the discovery of massive amounts of carbon monoxide in her bloodstream, which then led to discovery of the leak in my dad, ripped the heater out, but the damage had really been done. And, I grew up, , as an an only child taking care of my mother, really in a caregiver role. What happened to her body was her immune system. Just irreparably shut down. Yeah. Her body’s ability to fight off any sort of chemicals or toxins just went away. So what’s crazy, Jim is that I grew up, with a masked mother from the age of four on, so I’m very familiar with the 3m family of masks and she would wear these charcoal masks and, type masks just to avoid N95 exposure to anything out there that might make her sick. So that was childhood, maybe act one of life. Very active Christian family. So I would go to church every Sunday. I would play piano, up there on, in Sunday school. And it was really my parents’ faith that, that helped them get through this tragedy. They stayed together and then at 18. So if you’d asked me growing up what I was going to be, the answer would have been doctor to cure Mom and people like her, it took a very separate turn at 18 when I moved to New York city. And instead I grew my hair down on my shoulders and I joined a rock and roll bands. And, and then after our bands broke up, cause we all hated each other. I became a nightclub promoter. So,act two of life was 10 years in the nightclub business fin New York city working at 40 different nightclubs. And, it’s kind of like it sounds. You know, you just get drunk and party all night and you get paid to, the more money you can coax out of people, as they’re drinking and dancing, the more money you make. And it led to a real period of selfishness of, decadence, you know, maybe act two of my life that I’m really not proud of, I woke up one day at 28. I was having a bunch of health. Bunch of, health issues, maybe no wonder lifestyle. Yeah, shocking. Right. That’s what, drinking and smoking two packs of cigarettes and doing drugs with Lydia, but I really just kinda, questioned, let’s say I died at 28 years old of some overdose, or a health issue. What was my life for what had I contributed? And the answer was I’d made a negative contribution. I, certainly nothing positive, but I had, I had gotten maybe a million people drunk at that point and that’s really all I had to show for things.
I, it really act three, which is, obviously you’re speaking to me, kind of mid act three. I said, well, what if I sold everything I own? What if I started life over? And what if I gave one year of service to people who needed. Access to, to medical care.
Beginning With Humanitarian Work In Africa
Scott: And I wound up joining a humanitarian organization as a volunteer. Not only was I not paid, I actually had to pay $500 a month just to convince them to let me serve their organization. So I was like a small donor and a volunteer. And that led me to Liberia West Africa. So my first time on the continent of Africa embedded with these doctors, these humanitarian doctors and surgeons and nurses in a country with no electricity, no running water, no sewage, and one doctor for every 50,000 people living there. Well, so, you go from, I don’t know a life of limousines and people wearing $20,000 watches and buying thousand dollar bottles of Cristal champagne to a country where the most basic needs are not met for people. And I’ll never forget. My third day in West Africa, over 5,000 sick people were standing in a parking lot outside of a soccer stadium to meet our doctors in the hopes that they might get help. And the problem is we only had about 1500 available slots, on this hospital ship to offer. So we wound up turning over 3000 people away. And that was just, that was a turning point in my life. I realized that while the needs out there are so great. There are amazing people that have dedicated their lives to meeting those needs. But yet we don’t have enough resources or not enough doctors. There’s not enough money to help everybody. And that really led me to, starting Charity Water now 15 years ago, as I learned very simply that the most basic reason people were sick was because they didn’t have clean water. And that half of the country I was living in didn’t have clean water. And then half of the disease in the country was because people didn’t have clean water and access to sanitation toilets.
Jim Fortin: Yeah. I, on your website, I wrote down. I didn’t know this. Most of us don’t know it. Most of us are oblivious.
Scott: Most of us have never had to drink dirty water in our entire life. So most of us grew up with my buddy the other day, who works at charity water. He counted taps in his house and they were 18, from the garage to the outdoor garden hose to 18 points where clean water comes out and he lives in a small home.
Jim Fortin: Yeah. I have a five and a half thousand square foot home. I’m afraid to walk through and count the taps in my home right now, after you’d mentioned that.
Bringing Clean Water To Africa
Jim Fortin: But even my podcast, I’ve talked about the sanctity of water without this we are all dead in a couple of days. And we take it for granted and I teach people. You bless the water before you drink it. This saves your life. But we don’t have it on the planet in a lot of places. So this is how you started Charity Water. This podcast is about transformation. How is what you’re doing. And I have, watched and, been part of this for a little while on the outside, doing what we’re doing. What kind of transformations are you making in villages in Africa?
Scott: Yeah, well, you know, if you don’t have clean water again, you know what most listeners are, you woke up this morning and you made your coffee, you brushed your teeth. Maybe you took a shower. maybe you grabbed the bottle of water, on the way to the gym, 771 million people today did not have clean water. So it’s about one in 10 people alive, right? This is to Americas full of people, twice the population in the United States, worldwide living, they drank maybe said another way they drank unsafe filthy contaminated water today. Many of those people walked five or six hours to go get that dirty water
Jim Fortin: On your website. you say that 40 billion women spend 40 billion hours per year, collecting water in African villages.
Scott: And that’s just. in Africa Yeah. If you add in India and Southeast Asia and central and south America, the, wasted time toll would be even higher. Gosh, let me just try and unpack the problem. So if you don’t have clean water, it makes you sick. your kids, have a high chance of dying of diarrhea And again, this is just unthinkable, but it’s kids that are under the age of five that are most vulnerable to drinking contaminated water. And I’ve got two kids. I have a five-year-old and a seven-year-old my kids get diarrhea. I head to the Duane Reade. I buy that blue stuff like the Pedialyte and the cure for Diarrhea or Dysentery is hydration but if you’re giving the child the same dirty water from the swamp or the river that dehydrated them in the first place, you’re actually watching your child die of a completely preventable disease. So it’s one of the leading causes of death around the world in young children something so simple. So you’ve got all these, massive there’s 28 diseases that I could talk about directly related to water. Tracoma, for instance for example, is waterborne. So there are these big health problems.
The Impact Of Clean Water In Education
Scott: Then there’s the problem of education. One out of three schools, Jim around the world don’t have clean water to drink, and I’m sure there’s people listening. Your kids, maybe don’t like to go to school or they are complaining about school Imagine if your school had no water or Imagine if your kids were told to walk out in the back and try to find a place where nobody would see them to go to the bathroom Imagine if you’re a teenage girl when she hits puberty had to stay home four or five days every single month because the school had no sanitation facilities And imagine she had to fall behind in her studies four or five days every single month just because that basic need wasn’t met Huge kind of massive implications When it comes to education you mentioned the time wasted I’ve now been to 70 countries around the world I’ve been to the continent of Africa more than 60 times And what struck me When we would bring clean water into a village is that the women they wouldn’t talk about how dirty the water was and how clean it is now as much as they would talk about that reclaimed time and what they were doing with the time and how they made that time productive for them and their families and their communities And you know just To you know maybe put a point on this it is not uncommon for a woman in Africa or India or Southeast Asia to walk six hours every day for water Three hours out three hours back or maybe she’s doing two trips a day right One and a half out one and a half back one and a half out one and a half back This is a seven day a week job because if you don’t get water on the weekends your family doesn’t have water on the weekends So imagine this is your reality This is all you’ve known And then one day an organization like charity water comes in funds the appropriate water solution for your village And now you’ve got water next to your house You’ve just been given 42 new hours every single week for the rest of your life I mean it’s a full workweek So we hear of women selling things at the market selling rice selling peanuts selling bananas we hear of women that start brick making Businesses They want to earn an extra income They want to be able to put their kids to school They want to have money for unexpected medical costs So it contributes to the local economy And yeah it’s I’ve been gosh there’s so many I think those are the three big ones that we talk about is just the impact on health the impact on education and the impact on women and girls and giving them this time back that is no longer wasted that They can use productively to to flourish to help their families and their communities flourish
Jim Fortin: Yeah As I’m listening to you I’ve interviewed a lot of people not for my podcast but not it’s usually don’t have guests on the podcast And if I do bring a guest on it somebody that’s making a difference in the world and I’ve got some guests lined up Like you people doing things I’m almost feeling like a bad interview or one I’m just blown away I don’t I’m speechless which is unusual for me I’m pretty worldly and I’m nothing compared to listening to this listening to you because I did not know these things that you’re talking about and I’m sitting here almost incredulous going what do I even ask What do I even ask
Scott: I’m going to tell you too I’m going to tell you two stories just to make the point sometimes we these Statistics can be numbing right 771 million people who can even imagine what that would look like Right I was in Ethiopia so this is a country I’ve been to 31 times It’s I’ve been to Ethiopia more than anywhere else in the world And there was a village called Meda where all the women and the girls would walk Like I was mentioning they were walking eight hours To a ravine where dirty water came out of rock and was shared with animals And there was a 13 year old girl in that village Her name was Letequiros and she would do the walk for water every day seven days a week and one day And she had this clay pot That was already heavy and then she would fill it with water and she would have to hike up the hill And it was about eight hours round trip
Jim Fortin: How old was she
Scott: Was 13. 13.
Jim Fortin: I’m sorry You might’ve said
Scott: Yeah And at the end of one of these journeys, Jim, she slipped and fell before she got home. She watched the pot break into shards. She watched all of the water that she had just spent a day walking for and carrying, spill out onto the ground. .And she took a rope and she climbed a tree and she tied the rope around her neck and she hung herself. She did not want to go back for water. And, I remember hearing the story and at first I was like, oh, that’s not true. That’s where’s where Snopes to check this out. And I wound up living in this village for a week and walking in her footsteps and meeting her mother and her friends and her family and the priest that gave her funeral. I remember standing. On the path, looking at this frail tree where a 13 year old’s body was hanging years ago. And I remember being so angry, how dare we live in a world?
Clean Water Is A Solveable Problem
Scott: How dare we allow 90% of the world, to benefit with 18 taps, right. Coming, just this thing that we take for granted, and yet 10% of the planet. Is going without the most basic need, and we know how to solve this, right? She did not need to walk eight hours for clean water. Now, nobody had brought in the correct resources. This took money. This took engineering, this took planning, but the crazy thing was her death had not changed anything in that village. People were just, they just had to keep, if you wanted water, you got it from this area. And we’ve heard so many stories like that of just the extent of human suffering around not having clean water is really almost unfathomable. It’s heartbreak.
Jim Fortin: Yeah. Two things here. Number one, for people listening. Why. Or what’s causing or the cultural things or whatever. Why is it women and girls that are doing this? And you said, we know how to solve this. Okay. How do we solve?
Scott: Yeah. The why is probably, I don’t know that I have the answer to that. I just know that every single country I’ve ever been to culturally, the role of getting water falls to the women and girls. So whether I’m in central or South America or Asia or India or Bangladesh or Nepal or Africa, it is just the role of the women and the girls. Now, the men are supposed to be out working with livestock or farming, or, maybe working at a factory in a more urban environment.
Jim Fortin: Yeah, mind you, they are working, obviously the culture they’re doing something, but it’s more probably manual labor or something along those lines.
Scott: Yeah. The, in, in many of these cultures, it’s the role of the of the guide to go out and provide income. And it’s the role of the wife and the girls to look after the house. Looking after the house is cooking and often cleaning and preparing the water and getting the water which, again, many of these women are getting up at four in the morning. While their husbands are still sleeping and beginning that long journey for water. So I can’t overstate the impact water has the negative impact it has on the lives of women and girls. Okay. I mentioned it was a solvable problem charity water now has funded 90,000 water projects. Across 29 countries for about 15 million people. Yeah. So we have a lot of experience. We’ve been doing this for 15 years. We’ve raised well over $600 million now, from a global generous community people like your supporters, and we fund about 14 different technologies. So maybe. One way to say it is there’s no one size fits all solution to the water crisis. A lot of different things work in a lot of different contexts and environments. We fund $65 household filters in Cambodia. We fund $1.5 million gravity fed solar powered systems in Rowanda connecting villages through networks of pipes, we fund $10,000 drilled Wells in Uganda and then pretty much everything in between. There’s a lot of, engineering that goes into this. It’s finding the right technology. I, during COVID we lived on a farm about two and a half hours outside of New York city. And there were two wells, one was in the basement and that’s the water that we drank. And then there was one down by a pool and they had drilled that well to fill up a pool. Sometimes it is an off the grid type solution. And sometimes it’s actually creating a network of clean water that, that connects a lot of villages, but there is, there’s not a sink. Maybe that the takeaway, there’s not a single person alive right now where we would scratch our heads and say, oh, we just can’t get them water. And that’s actually not true with other problems. My mom died of pancreatic cancer. The doctors had no idea. How to help her with late stage pancreatic cancer, so the water crisis is, it’s not oh, we could just never help them. They’re going to have to drink dirty water for the rest of their lives. Now there are costs involved. Sometimes you have to move the water. Sometimes you have to clean the water, but we can always get a result, which is a human being, drinking, clean and safe water in a sustainable way.
Jim Fortin: So you had said, I wrote down there is a solution to this and what I’m looking at, or what came to mind is if we have a technology, we have the means with transportation, whatever we need, the solution is people getting involved and people helping.
Scott: That’s right. And building a movement of people who say not on our watch, a movement of people who can re reject or resist the apathy. That’s so easy to succumb to, with any of these seemingly paralyzing global issues, charity water now we’ve helped 15 million people. That’s one 50th of the 771 million. So we need to do 50 times. And scale, and grow the community. And there’s a bunch of other great water organizations also growing and also growing their communities. But we want to see this done in our lifetime. It’s crazy that, an inventor like Elon Musk can be out there landing spaceships on small platforms in the ocean. We’re talking about going to Mars and colonizing other planets. And yet we haven’t gotten the most basic need for life to 10% of our.
Jim Fortin: Don’t even get me started there started help people misappropriate, because if you go and wealth and greed and all these kinds of things.
Scott: Yeah. And that’s not an attack. That’s just a, Hey, listen, come on, let’s start allocating and dedicating resources to, to end the needless suffering that we’re seeing here. And I think there’s a role for philanthropists that the bases and the Elon’s of the world to get involved in this. At what we’re really excited about is there’s a role for everybody. We have kids, Jim, that will send us $8 and 15 cents in an envelope of lemonade stand money. There was a girl, a nine year old girl that did 12 lemonade stands in a row for charity water. She was out there selling lemonade in the rain. She was so dedicated. So it’s really. A movement of people. Some people can give a little, some people can give a lot, some people can give somewhere in between, but it’s really that act of inviting people to do something about this. And one of the unique things about charity water, as is that a hundred percent of all donations go directly to fund these projects. We actually have a separate bank account, a separately audited bank account. We’re about a hundred donors pay all the overhead. So they pay the staff salaries. They pay the flights, they pay the office course, they pay the phone bills so that, whether someone gives a dollar or $10 or even a million dollar. Every single penny goes directly to help the people in need get access to clean water. So that’s one of the things that I think has made us unique and has allowed us to bring in maybe some cynical disenchanted people who say where does my money go? All these charities, they’re, I don’t know how they’re spending it. I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference. We’ve been able to say for 15 years, every single penny goes directly and we just found a hundred business leaders who didn’t mind paying for all the overhead, who are happy to pay for that because they realized how powerful this message would be.
Jim Fortin: Sorry, things happen. It’s not a problem. And by the way, Scott,
Scott: That’s a rookie move.
Jim Fortin: I’d rather say this, actually, we just edited there, but I’d rather say this, but people listening is. I’m glad you had to step away for a moment because it gave me time to think. Normally I’m not one that’s absent with words. The questions come and words come and it’s very easy and I’m sitting here and I find myself stunned really just stunned, not the condition of the world. I didn’t know. We under intellectually understand things about this, but when you look at the intricacies of it and if you look at it added up close. It just brings a whole different perspective to it. And I’m sitting here going, I don’t really have anything to ask him. I thought I was going to ask him questions, but his stories are what I’m wanting people to hear, to understand the gravity and the magnitude. And also the impact that we individually can have because Sandra had said one of my coaches from Zimbabwe, she lives in, I think, she lives in the west now, but she said that some missionaries came into her village and help the village with water. And as a result of that, girls were allowed to go to school that changed her life. When we’re leather side of the world, even giving money, we help the way that we can. That’s transformational for people.
Scott: Yeah, it really is. That reminds me of a story of a woman named Helen Aptio, who we were able to help in Uganda. And maybe it, Sandra is her name. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe like Sandra, she had, she grew up in a village without access to clean water and in her case she had to walk and the kids in the village work going to school.
How Clean Water Impacted One Mother
Scott: She said, when we brought clean water into her village and in, in case I, in that case, it was a it was a, about a $10,000 solution to bring clean water just next to her house. So the walk was eliminated, the dirty diseased water became clean water. And we said, Helen, how is your life different now? How has the water transformed your life? And she said something so simple. She said, I am beautiful now. And I remember our team didn’t get it. We’re like, of course, Helen, you’re a very beautiful Ugandan woman. And she said, no, I don’t think you understand, because the water was so far because I had so little water, I would always put my family first and she had a bunch of kids and she said, I would make sure my kids were clean. I would make sure their school uniforms were clean. I made sure they always had enough water to drink. I would cook with the water. I would clean my, my, she had a very small kind of mud home. I would make sure the house was clean and she said, Mothers in Uganda, we always go last. We always put our families first. And she said, now that I have clean water, all the clean water I need, now that it’s near the home, she said, I can wash my face and I can wash my body. I can wash my clothes. And she said, now I feel beautiful. Now I’m beautiful. And she said, look at me, I’m looking so smart. And boy, just the thought. Again, something so many of us take for granted or have taken for granted our entire life could restore dignity to a beautiful courageous self-sacrificial mother head of household, and make her feel special, make her feel clean, make her feel beautiful. It’s something that we want to be in the business of helping more people and, knowing that there’s 15 million. Helen stories out there, the people that we’ve been able to help thanks to the generosity of our community, but there’s 771 million people. So that’s really, the vision is to grow the community is to scale. You know, we work with about 1500 local partners now who are out there. So it’s another thing worth noting when charity water raises the money. Everybody on the ground is native to that. So it’s the people of Malawi, the hydro-geologist, the technicians, the drivers leading progress in Malawi. It’s the people of India, the people of Bangladesh, the people of Cambodia. So we just believe for this work to be culturally appropriate and sustainable. It has to be led by the locals. So no guy like me is, flying over and throwing on a hard hat and telling people where they should drill. Our role is to invite people to be a part of this positive movement, you know who can’t agree to agree on clean water for humans, right? That’s the beauty of this Jim whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an independent or libertarian, whether you’re a person of faith, whether you’re not. Everybody can come together and agree that people need the most basic need for life. They need clean water.
Jim Fortin: That’s why we picked you guys because you know what, there’s no partisanship. There’s no one side other side, every human being needs water. And that’s why we picked it because we’re like hung this is universal and this is a problem not, and we didn’t know, I didn’t know to the degree that it’s a problem talking to you now, but everyone listening, which by the way, is charity water.org, right?
Scott: Yeah. Yeah. I’ll speak maybe specifically to something we’re working on at the moment. We’ve got a new community that we’ve been investing in called the spring and it think of this, like Netflix or Spotify or apple music or Hulu or Amazon prime, one of these subscriptions, except you get no benefit. And every month, someone else benefits with clean water. And, you know, I remember, learning the Disney plus went from zero to a hundred million members in a year and saying what if we could get a hundred million people to show up and give 10 or 20 or 30 bucks for cleaning? We would actually solve this problem now, we don’t have the Mandalorian. We don’t have that catalog of great films, but surely there have to be people who would show up every month and give what they could. Knowing that a hundred percent of that would provide clean water to people in need. So this is something we launched it’s called the spring. And again, we’re saying there’s no benefits to this subscription every single month. You’re going to knock it. Mute free shipping from Amazon. You’re not going to get movies. You’re not going to get a magazine. You’re not going to get music, but you’re going to give clean water. And this has now grown this community. We have people from 149 countries. That our spring members, some of them are giving 10 a month. Some of them are giving a hundred a month. And what we promise is that every penny goes directly to the people that need it, and we report back on how that money spent and on stories of impact. So, there’s also a video there, sometimes it’s. Yeah. Sometimes you need to see it in the video. That’s been viewed about 80 million times now. So you can just go to thespring.com thespring.com and you can see it. It’s a great way to just see the need. And then also see how amazing it is when clean water is brought into these communities. And to hear in people’s words, some of their stories. So it’s not me telling their story, it’s them telling their own story. That is a really simple way that people can help. Every single person listening right now, could do the equivalent of a Netflix knowing that people could get clean water every single month. And it only costs us Jim $40 to get someone clean water. It’s actually so affordable, right? $40 can change someone’s life. And, we have a bunch of people who just do that every month. And at the end of the year, 12 human beings have clean water because they decided to do something right. It’s easy to do nothing.
Jim Fortin: Yeah, absolutely. I look back here. Question that popped into mind is when you started this, you’re starting a global movement. You’re changing millions of people’s lives in a very positive way. What did you see happening when you started this?
Scott: One, I saw a lot of people who wanted to do good, but didn’t trust the system. I remember coming across a USA today, poll, which found 42% of Americans said they didn’t trust charities. A more recent poll found 70% of Americans believe charities wasted their money in some way. And I remember thinking. Know and you remember there was a time of, I remember Anderson Cooper used to chase the bad charity CEOs to the doors of their mansions and slam the door in the base in America, throws up their hands and say, see, that’s why I don’t give, or during some disaster, whether it was an earthquake or a tsunami, you hear about money that never made it there. And so I think that was one of the first things that I wanted to attack. I thought clean water is a noble cause as you said, it’s not political. It’s not religious. Everybody could agree on that. So I was really focused on how we could do a different kind of charity, a different kind of structure, how we could build a hyper transparent organization. One of the things that we did from day one, we have put every single water project we have ever completed. Up on Google earth and Google maps. So there are satellite images of every single we’ve done, more than 70,000 completed projects. Now another 20,000 in progress. And we wanted to prove that and put that online. Restore people’s faith in giving. So your community will see exactly where that 112 or $116,000 went. You’ll be able to see the projects that were completed because of those donations. And that was really critical. I thought 15 years ago, when I started to the success of this movement to and not giving people the typical excuses of why not. And say what if we can tell you that all of your $40 a month we’ll go, Jim did was crazy, but we even pay back credit card fees. So if you gave $40 a month on your American express, we get call it 38 and change. We actually make up that difference. That dollar 70 every month so that there is total integrity in the a hundred percent. And that sounded like a really good idea. 15 years ago, now it’s scale, it costs us, it’ll cost us over $600,000 this year, paying back those donors credit card fees.
Jim Fortin: But you can’t buy trust you’ve earned it.
Scott: But our a hundred families are so happy to do that, to top up those 98% donations. So that there can be integrity and in the model and in the movement.
Yeah. So people listening.
Jim Fortin: I also I’m guilty of it., I work from, let me give as much as I can. In my life, let me do as much as I can for people. And that’s just my driver, but most people aren’t like you and I, and that’s just the way we’ve learned to grow up that way is take care of me first, take care of me first. And I’ve been the last, many years of my life, let me help other people. I did go look at your website and then it said a hundred percent goes to, the cause. Okay. Let let me research that. And I want to see if that’s correct. And then I looked at your financials because I said, if I’m going to put this in front of my people, I’m going to make sure there’s nothing hidden. It’s legit.
Scott: Yeah. We have KPMG now for the last 10 years we forced them to audit the a hundred percent model and actually write an opinion on that. So every donation that charity water uses for overhead has a documented paper trail behind it. That is audited. Because again, we thought there’s some people that say they’re just making it up.
Jim Fortin: Well, I was literally in the 42 and 70%, no question about it. And I still give a lot. I give a lot of money away and I went and researched and I’m like, whoa, these guys are who they say they are. They do what they say they’re going to do. And that’s when I got the tribe on board inside, that would be my whole community. That was just one of my programs. And I got them all on board. And look what we did. But I knew I could get behind you and something wouldn’t backfire on me or you something wouldn’t come out later that was lacking integrity or whatever. So for everyone listening, I can say you guys do walk your talk. There’s no question. About that. But you personally though,
Scott: I’m a donor to the cause as well. I wound up writing a book which became a New York times bestseller. I gave a hundred percent of the book advance. I gave all the proceeds, domestically, internationally to charity water. You know, with that and our personal donations, my wife and I now have given over a million dollars to our own organization. So we, we believe in the cause, we, you gotta eat your own dog. Yeah. We do at least one water project a year. Sometimes we’re able to do a couple every single year. So I think it’s really important. Our team, the charity water team gives as well to the mission.
Jim Fortin: I agree with that a hundred percent, a lot of people promote things, but they don’t even actually participate in what they promote. And that’s why I gave 5,000 bucks when we started that on my own pocket. And I’m going to be giving more. I’m going to, I’m going to join the. The spring Fest.
Scott: Spring. Amazing.
Jim Fortin: Absolutely. A lot of people listening are going to join this spring thing. Why? Because I work with a service oriented community. That’s what I lead. And we all, I think all of us want to make a difference in the world. We just don’t know how we can do it or somewhere where the money’s actually going to be used to help people. Know, what’s final thoughts you want people to have because you’ve said a lot in 45 minutes, you’ve said ton,
Scott: Yeah. I think, you talk a lot about transformation, very simple. My first decade in New York, as an adult, 18 to 28 was selfish. I’ve been there, many pretty girls can I date, what, nice cars can I drive? What nice apartments can I live in and eventually buy. It was all about the accumulation of things, status, wanting to be validated by keeping up and sure. Let me tell you, you can never have. Someone always has more and this endless pursuit of more, stole my soul. And it’s, you know, I wound up, remember, I remember I was on this vacation once I was in south America. I was with rich, beautiful, famous people, private planes, people throwing down $10,000 a hand at blackjack. And I just remember being so unhappy. I’m like, is this it? And realizing that there was always somebody with more, somebody would always have a better car, a better watch a more famous girlfriend. And these people are unhappy too. Because they’re stuck on this treadmill. You know what I learned that was through service, you really find freedom. When you change the intention of your life to say, how can I be useful? How can I use my time? My talents, my money in the service of others. It’s like the most freeing thing ever. And then, the more money you get, the more money you want to give. The more money you want to make useful and not stowaway in some bank account or go buy it. And the next thing you’re so I think, for me, I just had this radical transformation and said, I have it all wrong. Let me try the exact opposite. Instead of serving me, let me try and serve others. And 17 years later, I’m still doing that. And I’m trying to teach my kids to, our family motto is we have two family models. You go first and how can I help. And I think if people just ask that question, how can I be useful? A lot of people can be useful with their money. And I think the more you give, the more you give. It’s almost like a muscle that you start working out. You start working out the generosity muscle. Some people can’t give money, they could give time, energy and talent or mentorship or encouragement. Yeah. So I think that’s, I’m a guy that had it all wrong in my life would have looked fantastic before. And, I had the watch and was driving the fancy BMW and, was behind the velvet rope. That was that was a shabby. Meaningless life that would leave no legacy behind and of importance that didn’t benefit others. And, I think just by asking a very different question, how can I be useful? How can I end this needless suffering that we see around us? How can I not be paralyzed and just start taking actions? And for many of your listeners that might be in the local community, maybe Africa, India, clean water for people far away. It is a bridge too far, but there are certainly needs in your local. And that might be the needs of one family that might be, uh,the needs of a local soup kitchen, or a local shelter, that you can get involved in. So I just find when people do that, then they do more and. Yeah, the more that they do, the more they want to do, the more they want to be useful.
Jim Fortin: I find the exact same thing. And you actually dovetail with what I talk about in different episodes on my podcast is the way to get what you want in life is to serve the world first, take care of people around you, help people around you take all the impetus off thinking about me, and what can I get. And started thinking about how can I serve people where I work from is I want to leave the world a better place than what I found it. When I leave, I have a lot of material, things and possessions, none of them mean anything. They’re just things. What means something are the lives that I impacted while I was here. And you’re saying the same thing,
Scott: None of your things are going to turn up at your funeral and say, I’m so glad he bought me. The car is not going to turn up. The second or third home is not going to turn up. The boat’s not going to turn up, but someone who you might’ve helped through college someone who’s, heating bill you might have found out about and paid for those are the people whose lives you really touch. There was a Super Bowl commercial that they tried to do this, and I think it was for travel, but they were saying, the light beer doesn’t matter. The flat screen TV doesn’t matter. The Toyota or Kia doesn’t matter. They were saying, Hey, it’s your own travel experience. I think, you could argue. The vacation you took nine years ago. Okay. That was great. Maybe you built, friendships or family connection, but it’s really the people’s lives, who you go out of the way to try to serve. Yeah. That’s what really matters. And that’s what your family members and your friends will say. That was a great man. That was a great woman. They looked to be useful. They looked around and they tried to help and they tried to use whatever they were given to benefit others.
Jim Fortin: I agree a thousand percent. There’s nothing I can add. So we, people listening, the best way we can get involved is spring. Right? That’s one way, plus.
Scott: Yeah, maybe we just give you we give you your own link, maybe charity, water.org/ what do you have you call your community something special?
Jim Fortin: Generally. It’s, it’s my transform, it’s my transformation program, but I also have the podcast where this is going, where I have a lot of listeners on that.
Scott: Maybe it’s just your name. Yeah, maybe it would be cool to, to, to create a way to, to track that actually, maybe it’s just a charity water.org/jimfortin. And people could go there and it just be fun to track the impact of your community a year from now two years from now, three years from now in this way through the spring, because we built that technology and it’s been cool to see people use it. I know you’ve already made a huge impact and we’re already tracking that 112 grand as it goes out, but we could actually track 10, 20, 30 bucks a month and report back to you and say, Hey, hear all the people that have clean water because they joined through listening and through learning more about this.
Jim Fortin: No, definitely. My team will reach out to you. We’ll get that done, but I’m, I’m more concerned. Tracking is good, but to me that’s a lot of ego based for me is I just want to do good.
Scott: No, I know. I know. I know that you would never ask for that, but when I just want to do great things, sometimes people are surprised by the power of community and the power of. A bunch of small acts of kindness or generosity, actually adding up to something extraordinary. Just based on your last campaign, 10 communities are going to get clean water for the first time. You think about that. That’s like over 2000 people. You know, like the next time you’re at a concert, and there’s 2000 people around, it’s really amazing.
So that’s what I get so excited about. Much more than trying to entice, billionaire philanthropists. And there’s definitely a room for that. It’s just a bunch of people who can contribute and contribute in a meaningful and loyal and steady way. And that’s how movements are built. That’s a stuff really good.
Jim Fortin: No question. And when I work from this planet is in trouble. The species is in trouble. There’s a lot of things not going positively in the planet. And every one of us needs to do something to turn this around, to contribute in some way, to create a better world for the next generation, your kids, what, how, what kind of world do we want them to grow up in? And it’s what we do now. And people listening now and people that contribute to you and the impact you’re making, that makes a difference in the world. So Scott, thank you so much. We’re going to do some more together. We’ll be in touch. We’re going to do quite a bit more together.
Scott: We have to come on a trip with us at some time. Jim would be great to, for you to see the impact that your community’s made. So I’ll make sure we invite you out to the field and we get traveling.
Jim Fortin: Once we started traveling. I’d love it very much. Thank you again, Scott.
Scott: We’ll have to make it. You’ll have to make an exception for this, but I thought you might.,
Jim Fortin: I will leave Sedona for you because I want to see this and we’re I’m on board and I’m going to bring other people on board as well. Thank you so much Scott.
Scott: We’re grateful for you and we’re grateful for your community.
Jim Fortin: Take care, my friend.
Scott: Thanks for having me.
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