Friday, September 24, 2010

How the World Gets Changed

I'm just giddy today.  One week ago yesterday Tariku started his campaign to raise $5,000 for a water well in Africa for his birthday.  I knew we'd never get to $5,000 and I knew that I just needed to be content with whatever we had raised in the 90 day period of time.  Well yesterday, exactly one week after starting the campaign, the well was fully funded and then some.  WHAT????!!!! 

I've had lots of questions over the past week..."how did you think to do that?", "how did you get that much money raised?" "how did it happen so quickly?".  I've been thinking about these questions and have some thoughts on them...

First of all - "How did I think to do this?".  Well, the journey I've been on over the past few years has brought me to the place where I realize that stuff doesn't matter.  There is incredible need in the world we live in and I am wealthy compared to the rest of the world, even when I don't feel like I am.  I have found greater joy in giving of my time and resources than in any gift I've ever received.  Ever.  I want my children to grow up with that same experience and I want them to start NOW.  What child really needs another action figure or toy??  Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying children shouldn't receive presents.  Mine do and will in the future.  But, what I am saying is that if we have any hope of changing the world we live in, we need to start NOW modeling for our children that giving is a pleasure AND a responsibility we have to our fellow man. 

The other part of why I thought to do this was simply because of Tariku's story.  He likely would have been one of the statistics...4,500 children die daily from water related diseases.  His brother died from diahrrea due to their water source and Tariku was drinking that same water.  That sends chills down my spine.  He was spared, but so many are not.  This is PREVENTABLE.  And we have the resources to do something about it.  I had learned about charity:water over a year ago and had been really impressed with their work and their model of educating and involving people. The connection just seemed natural. 

As to how we got that much money raised so quickly...that's simple.  People WANT to be involved in changing the world.  They do.  I have found that many folks sit back and do nothing because they are paralyzed by the massiveness of the problem and don't feel there's anything they do can make a dent. Haven't you all heard "Well, it's such a huge problem and my little donation isn't going to really help."?  It's really not that people aren't willing to give (although there certainly are those people!), it's just that they don't realize the impact they can have.  I love how charity:water breaks it down...$20 provides 1 person clean drinking water for 20 years.  That makes the person who thinks their 20 bucks won't make a dent see that it will indeed make an incredible impact for the one person they are helping. 

I also think that when people hear a statistic like there are 147 million orphans in the world they say, "Man, that's really sad."  It's overwhelming to them.  But when you share a story with them about one of those orphans like my son, Tariku, there's a connection.  People can connect to a story about a little boy.  They can see that they can help him have a future.  Our community of friends and family GAVE us close to $15,000 to adopt Tariku.  Ben and I were inspired to adopt as we saw friends whose lives were changed as a result of it.  People were inspired to help us bring our son home from Ethiopia.  Others were inspired by us bringing Tariku home and are now in the process of adopting their own children.  And now, people have heard Tariku's story and made the connection that he was one of the people in the world drinking water every day that may have killed him.  And so, once again, they acted.  None of it ever would have happened without telling a story.

So, how do we tell our stories effectively?  We live in the information age.  We have the advantage of social media like FaceBook, Twitter and Blogging.  But for all those folks who aren't technical, there are other ways!  Good old fashioned letter writing is what helped bring in the finances for our adoption.  Share your heart.  Share what you're passionate about and why.  CONNECT at a deep level with the people you are sharing with.  People want to be moved.  It's not about making it a production. It's about being authentic.  Help people understand why you are passionate about whatever the "thing" is.  Once they understand and are connected at a heart level, they may become fellow advocates!  My neighbor, for example, was so moved by Tariku's water project that she sent an email out to everyone in her address book.  My nephew shared Tariku's story at school in his classroom and gave out information.  Friends shared Tariku's story on FaceBook.  All of these seemingly little things mobilize people to get involved.

Stories change our lives.  They compel us.  Find a story and tell it.  Maybe it's your own story...maybe it's someone else's.  If you're feeling today like you can't really make a difference, don't buy the lie.  You can.  Find something you care about and if you don't have a story of your own to tell about it, find one. We all need to hear it. That's how the world gets changed.



  1. Every bit of thise has blessed my heart....thank you for posting!

  2. Jesus spoke in parables because He knew the power of a story. Keep telling the stories and changing lives in your neck of the woods and I will do the same in mine! :)

  3. that is so awesome and so true amy!

  4. I just wanted to let you know that Tariku has inspired us! My hubby and I feel that we are supposed to start our very own clean water campaign through charity: water! In spite of being "all-fundraised-out" and still in need of funding for our adoption, we really feel that God is calling us to campaign for this and trust Him with the rest! =)

  5. Great stuff. I want to meet Tariku! Consider this an open-ended invitation to the charity: water headquarters. We'd love to meet you guys.

    Scott Harrison, charity: water

  6. This is so awesome! I would love to raise money like Tariku, but I guess my story isn't as good...yet ;) I shared this on my own blog, because I think it's so great to hear of people making a difference! (and I also want my kids to grow up understanding that "stuff" doesn't matter)

  7. How amazing what a difference one child can make! And it all began because you decided to make a difference in the life of one child! I love how God works thing like this out!

    We also have adopted children from Ethiopia and after learning more about the country and the issues in many parts of Africa and other developing countries, I have become convinced that clean water is really the foundation. Without clean water, there is really no sense in putting any other help in place.

    Congratulations to you and to your son on a job well done!

  8. How cool is that to receive a comment from Scott Harrison?!!! CRAZY! But even more exciting is what your little boy did to bring clean water to so many. We've been BIG fans of Charity Water as well. I love seeing people do amazing things for the glory of God! God is so good!

    Blessings to you...

  9. I LOVE how the Savages are total ROCK stars! Tell Scott Harrison that Tariku needs a job in PR for Charity:Water and you have a friend who wrote a children's book to help other kids change the world! ;) I love you.

  10. Hey, thank you for your comment on my own blog. I thought you'd like to know that I've begun telling my own story there this week. I'd love for you to stop on by again sometime ;) I'm doing it in pieces and am leading up to something...

    How about an update here on Tariku's project?

    Thanks again!

  11. i think this story is really great, especially how you said that you've realized "stuff" doesn't matter. i agree, and i think that it's time to prepare the upcoming generation for the change that they can make in the world. we all can do our part!

  12. That is so AMAZING! My 7-year-old is also giving up Christmas presents in hopes of raising $5,000. I am so proud of him.

  13. thank you for your opinion on my own weblog. I believed you'd like to know that I've started informing my own tale there this 7 days. I'd really like for you to quit on by again sometime
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