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Wallets for Water

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A few days ago I caught up with Jeff Gokee, the Founder and President of Wallets for Water to sit down and talk about this relatively new non-profit. Here’s our interview…

 

 

 

Paul

For the person who’s never heard, can you take a minute and describe what Wallets for Water is?

Jeff

Wallets for Water is a non-profit organization that plants fresh water wells in the poorest of the poor villages around the world. We collect donated ties from everywhere. Once we have the ties we get together and hand-make all of the wallets to be sold. For every 200 wallets we sell, we are able to build one well. The more ties we get, the more wallets we make, the more lives are being saved.

Paul

There seem to be a lot of organizations out there that are tackling this issue of “clean drinking water.” Why jump in on that now?

Jeff

Wallets for Water isn’t about a product. Most non-profits have been stealing justice away from people. They basically say, “purchase our product, and we’ll do the justice part of it for you.” It just breeds more consumerism. It makes people feel good when they really haven’t done all that much, other than make a wise and informed purchase from a company that they believe in. It’s not that what other organizations do is bad. Many of them are making a real difference and bringing real awareness to issues that need to be addressed. It’s just that Wallets is about involving Americans in social justice, the value isn’t in the product but in the volunteer involvement, the donating the ties and making the wallets. Churches, Youth Groups, and other social groups are collecting ties making wallets and they are building wells all over the world. We’re trying to move away from a model of Americans helping places like India with handouts because India has become dependent on us. It reinforces a cycle of poverty and doesn’t really fix anything long-term. What we’re driving after is sustainability. Imagine Delits in India who because of the caste system in India can’t get a job, now getting paid a fair wage to make wallets…keeping them off the street and away from prostitution. Wallets is actually in the process of making this dream a reality in India! The goal is personal involvement. Here…and there.

Paul

Where did the idea of Wallets for Water come from?

Jeff

I was doing Student Ministry at the time and going on short-term mission trips. It became exhausting and I felt like I had become a consumer of short-term mission projects. So I began wrestling with this question, “What can I do that will outlast me?” I challenged our 5th-8th grade Students to submit ideas about what we could do that would outlast us; and Wallets for Water ended up growing out of an idea submitted by a student!

Paul

How can people be a part of Wallets for Water?

Jeff

They can go to the Wallets for Water website and check out upcoming events they can be a part of or host their own event, they can donate ties, volunteer to make wallets, and of course purchase a wallet that another volunteer has made.

To get your hands on a wallet or to get information about hosting a Wallets for Water event and join the movement go here

It’s simple…donate a tie + make a wallet + buy a wallet = plant a well


Posted in Spiritual Formation

2 Responses to “Wallets for Water”

  1. Dan Gutwein June 1, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Nice job Paul. I think the world of Jeff and WFW. Thanks for sharing this incredible organization on your blog.

    • Paul Alexander June 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

      I absolutely believe in what Wallets for Water is doing! Got to see it first hand in India a couple of years ago when some 5th & 6th graders raised enough money to put in a well & I got to be there on site for the “commissioning!”

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