There are days when life is pretty great. Banal days, and then the days when nothing is going your way: a traffic jam, a few pounds, an argument with someone you love. Then, there are the days when the clocks stop. Everything changes. You float in and out.
Someone I love deeply was in a terrible car accident this week. This special person will be ok, somehow (grace, among other things). But we were incredibly blessed to have the wake-up call without the heart-piercing, forever kind of loss.
So, here’s Rachel’s story: how a nine-year old girl helped change the lives of 60,000 people in over 100 villages in Ethiopia. Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, Scott Harrison and his charity:water. Read the beautiful story and watch the video here.
A little over a year ago, Rachel was your average nine-year-old. She loved Taylor Swift and had a secret crush on Justin Bieber, although she’d never admit it. She had a loving family and a heart that wanted to solve every problem she saw in this world. Once, she cut off all her hair and donated it to make wigs for kids who had cancer. So when she sat in church one day and heard Scott Harrison from charity: water give a talk about how kids her age in Africa didn’t have clean water to drink, she immediately decided to help.
With her mom’s encouragement, she created a fundraising page on mycharitywater.org, telling her family and friends that she didn’t want presents for her ninth birthday. Instead, she asked them to donate $9, as she was turning 9. Rachel wanted kids like her to have clean water to drink.
She had a big goal: to raise $300 and give 15 people clean drinking water. She fell a little short, raising $220, and told her mom that she’d try harder next year.
A month later, Rachel was in a tragic car accident on highway I-90 near Seattle, Washington. A trailer had jack-knifed into a logging truck, sending logs tumbling down the freeway. More than a dozen cars were caught in the pile-up, and the trailer smashed into the back of Rachel’s car.
She was the only person critically injured, and on July 23rd, 2011, she was taken off life support.
When the news spread about Rachel’s story and her birthday wish, people all around the world began to donate on her page. Some gave $9, some $19, leaving comments like “This is the rest of my month’s salary…..” A month later, 30,000 people had given more than $1.2 million.
All of us at charity: water were blown away by the generosity. The comments and notes that were left on Rachel’s page caused many tears in the coming months, and Rachel’s story continues to inspire us today.
Last year, we sent 100% of the money from Rachel’s campaign to our partners in Tigray, Ethiopia, and they began to construct water projects for people in need. We made a promise to Rachel’s mom that one day she’d come with us to Ethiopia to meet some of the people Rachel’s wish had helped.
Monday, we fulfilled that promise.
Sending love to Rachel’s family.
Healing thoughts and love to those around me and to those I don’t know…anyone sad, lonely, suffering, or grieving the loss of someone special.