Midway nonprofit makes global impact with fresh water amid Israel-Hamas war
The Midway-based Water For Life Charity supplies water filters and drills wells in developing and war-torn countries lacking safe drinking water.
When Lindsey Leavitt met James Brown, she said their connection was right out of a romantic comedy. “When I started dating James nine years ago, he had a nonprofit and he was bald. And what else could a girl ask for?”
That nonprofit is Water for Life Charity and in just 10 years, its small team of volunteers has shipped over 35,000 water filters to 25 different countries.
This is not the Midway couple’s main gig. By day, Lindsey is an author and James is a sales and marketing director who founded this 501c3.
“I was looking at a quote by Martin Luther King on my neighbor's refrigerator, and it said, ‘Every single day, what are you doing for others?’" said James. "And I'm like, ‘What am I doing for others?’ And I felt like I just needed to give back more.”
That feeling has been life-changing for the couple and the many they serve. According to the United Nations, a child dies from a waterborne disease every two minutes. James said a $50 donation at waterforlifecharity.org provides a new water filter capable of purifying over 100,000 gallons of clean, safe drinking water.
Originally, they fundraised to take the filters on specific missions with humanitarian groups. They started expanding a few years ago when they partnered with another organization to provide filters to Puerto Rico after its devastating hurricane.
“Also, we have now added if there is political unrest, war, anything like that," said Lindsey. "The great thing is because we're so small, and we're 100% volunteer-based, we can go and partner with another organization that is already doing work in any of these areas.”
Those areas include the Gaza Strip and Ukraine; they emphasize they have no political affiliations and only respond to need. In war-torn countries, they have to be especially resourceful in finding the right partners as they navigate strict customs requirements and border crossings.
This labor of love is a lot of work and stress, so why do it? James said it’s all about the people. Several years ago, they took filters to a village in Uganda and met a father of four who had lost two children to waterborne diseases.
“Two years later, he came back and said, ‘Look,’ and he's just emotional, and he's crying," said James. "And he's like, 'My two other kids are healthy now because we have clean water.’ But that was a really impactful and powerful story that showed how the filters really do save lives, and they really affect the kids.”
Lindsey said water is a basic human need everyone deserves and it is miraculous that every time they have to go through red tape or run into a roadblock they always find a way.
“Life's most urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’" she said. "And I think as long as we can do these things, it does help us sleep at night. And I think for a lot of people, it doesn't matter what your cause is. There are so many amazing organizations. We just want people to do something.”
Meanwhile, the Browns will continue to do a whole lot of “something” as they show caring can have a ripple effect around the world.