When Ryan Hreljac of Kemptville, Ontario, learned from his first-grade teacher that children in Africa were dying for want of clean water, he decided to do something about that. He found information that suggested that the cost of digging one well was about 70 Canadian dollars. He asked his parents for the money. They suggested that he earn it by doing chores.
So he did. He washed windows and vacuumed for neighbors, saving his earnings in a cookie jar. Finally he met his goal and paid for his first well, donating his earnings to WaterAid, a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to providing clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene education to the world's poorest people. Since 1987, their website informs me, WaterAid has helped more than 1 million people in the developing world live healthier, more productive lives.
WaterAid informed him that a well cost $2,000 rather than $70, so Ryan vowed to keep doing chores until he created the rest of the needed funds. However, his efforts drew publicity and many people added to his cookie jar earnings. Soon he raised the $2,000 and was able to provide funds for his first well, which he requested be built near a school.
The non-profit organization Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief found the perfect well site for him, in the Angolo Primary School district of northern Uganda. The well was completed in 2000 and Ryan was able to visit the well, using donated frequent-flyer miles. It was a triumphant moment when he met the Ugandan children, his contemporaries, who now had water for their village.
But Ryan didn't stop there. With the help of his family, he established the Ryan's Well Foundation. Supported by the Canadian International Development Agency, his foundation has raised more than $800,000 to date and funded more than 70 wells in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
In November 2003, at the age of 12, Ryan received the Founder's Award, presented by the World of Children Awards and UNICEF. Ryan has continued to support this effort, traveling with his older brother wherever he is invited to speak to children on the importance of a water supply to desert villages in the Third World. He is now 16 and plans to study to become a water engineer and move to Africa after college to pursue his dream. "I want all of Africa to have clean drinking water," he says, according to his website.
My focus on water in this Difference Makers series is due to my awareness of how much we are beings of water, and how much difference it makes what sort of water we have available to drink.
Firstly, we as physical beings are bags of water. Our bodies are between 60 percent and 75 percent constituted of water in combination with other liquefied elements such as vitamins and proteins. Our blood and lymphatic systems are water-based. Our muscles cannot function without water. If we are dehydrated past three days, we are likely to die. This last fact is especially poignant when the plight of many Africans is considered. Desertification has changed many formerly well-watered areas in Africa into waterless wastelands.
Secondly, water is a magical thing. Indeed, the Hatonn group, an extraterrestrial source which I channel, recommends that we learn from water. In a session collected by our research group on May 16, 1974, the group says:
As you go through your daily existence, we suggest that you contemplate that which is called water. Water, my friends, is the humblest and weakest of all substances. It abides in the lowest places. It constantly seeks a level. It is ashamed to go nowhere, but flows wherever opportunity takes it. My friends, water may wear away the hardest substances, for it is far stronger in its weakness than rigid substances can ever be. Be like the water, my friends. Upon the spiritual path that you are seeking to follow, seek the nature of water.
A characteristic of water, which has been explored by Dr. Masuro Emoto, a Japanese doctor of alternative medicine, is the impact upon water crystals by music, human thoughts and emotions. With his photographs of water clusters, he shows clearly that water crystals are imprinted by classical music and thoughts of love, gratitude and appreciation by forming beautiful, delicate crystalline structures. Blaring, heavy-rock music and thoughts of anger and people such as Hitler create distorted and muddied patterns. To see photographs of his findings, go to his site. A photo is truly worth a thousand words!
When we take a drink of water from the tap here in relatively water-rich USA, we tend not to appreciate either its universal availability or its sensitivity to our thoughts. Yet it is a powerful and simple spiritual practice to thank the water as we are drinking it or using it for cooking, washing or irrigation.
If the water in a laboratory is responsive to thoughts and emotions, how much more so is the water in our own bodies magnetized by the general direction of our thoughts? We can literally make ourselves sick when we habitually dwell on toxic thoughts.
If your body or emotions feel out of kilter, try pouring yourself a glass of water and magnetizing it with your love and nurturing, healing concern for yourself before drinking it. (You magnetize water by holding your hands over a container of it and projecting your intention to it.) As you drink the blessed water, you can feel what a difference the magnetization of love makes.
In my own home, I have put "Thanks" signs on all our water taps, to help me and my household remember to magnetize the water we use with our attitude of gratitude. And in the bathtub, I offer my thanks and love to magnetize the bath water. I love to visualize the stream of love and light flowing out into the water system of my city, then into the Ohio River and downstream to the Mississippi and eventually to the ocean, when I drain the tub.
Keeping our bodies hydrated is vital! If we travel, it is especially important. Airplane travel is very drying to the body system, so it is well to drink 8 ounces of water an hour in the air. And on the ground, our bodies need at least 48 ounces of water or other liquids — free of caffeine and alcohol, which are diarrhetics — per day. So fruit juice, milk and soup count, but colas and coffee do not, as they dehydrate the body rather than hydrating it.
While I am on the subject of water, allow me to correct errors that crept into my article on Ariane of the Wells. I misspoke in calling Ariane's project well-digging. The article's title should have been "Ariane of the Boreholes"! The area where she is working to make a difference has no aquifers close to the ground's surface. So one cannot simply dig a well. That area needs boreholes, which penetrate to very deep underground aquifers inaccessible by conventional means. This depth of digging can be done only by expensive equipment not available locally, which is why the cost of a borehole is so much higher than the cost of a conventional well.
Ariane says that she has not yet been able to raise enough funds for a second borehole, as originally planned. She continues to speak to groups when invited, and hopes to raise funds to dig up to 20 more boreholes over the next 10 to 15 years. Ariane wishes people to know that all their donations are 100 percent tax-deductible.
She tells me, also, that Oxfam and CARE have NOT stepped in, as I stated, using a reference that was not accurate. She does not want to emphasize this lack of response on their part, however, as she does not want to criticize organizations that do so much other good work.
Also, quoting from the same source, her father, who can be forgiven inaccuracy in his excitement and pride over his daughter's wonderful service to others, I got the dates of her education wrong. She got her public health degree in 2004 and conducted her CARE internship in 2003, between the first and second year of her master's work at Yale.
Lastly, her mother tells me that Ariane's trip across a part of the Sahara was done when she was 6 years old, not 6 months old! She was wrapped securely into the saddle so that she would not fall out of it as she slept, rocked by the camel's gait.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. Fellow "bags-of-water," let us praise and bless the water in our bodies! Let us praise and thank the water we use. Let us become more deeply aware of the watery nature of our bodies, and how easily they are magnetized by the tides, the stars and our own thoughts. Above all, let us take responsibility for our thoughts and magnetize all we do with our loving intention.