Giving the Gift of Access to Clean Water

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water.

The lack of clean and reliable drinking water has devastating consequences on individuals, families and communities in the world’s poorest areas.

The Problem

Five million people, mostly children under the age of 5, each year die of water-related illnesses. In fact, more children die from these illnesses than from malaria, HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis combined. A majority of these diseases could be prevented with clean drinking water and proper sanitation. Not only does tainted water cause illness, it also contributes to increased poverty and gender inequality.

Women and girls are traditionally responsible for collecting water for their families. Because they spend a significant portion of their time collecting water, they are not contributing to the family’s income or attending school. These facts make it infinitely more difficult to break the cycle of poverty. Moreover, a large portion of household income is spent on medical treatments for water-borne illness and the physical effects of constantly carrying heavy loads of water.

The Solution

Water 1st International, a nonprofit based in Seattle, is committed helping communities meet their basic needs of safe water and adequate sanitation. They work with partner organizations in Honduras, India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia to find permanent solutions to sanitary issues in each community.

Sara Toledo, a Wilmette native and New Trier grad, works as Water 1st’s Events and Outreach Coordinator. She attests to the huge impact that Water 1st has had since its foundation in 2005. “Working for six years in four countries, we have provided water for 64,000 people and completed 527 water projects.” That means safer drinking water, better sanitation and comprehensive hygiene-education projects to permanently improve the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Water 1st International Comes to Chicago

Water 1st International is hosting the Give Water Give Life Benefit on Friday, March 9th at Prairie Production, 1314, W. Randolph St., Chicago. The event will include a silent auction, light meal and a presentation by Executive Director of Water 1st International, Maria Smith Nilson. The money that is raised will benefit the partner organizations that Water 1st works with in Honduras, India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Every donation between 200 and 10,000 dollars will be matched dollar for dollar by Water 1st. Make It Better is helping to raise money for this wonderful cause with a subscription fundraiser that directly benefits Water 1st International.

For more information about attending the Give Water Give Life Benefit, contact Sara Toledo at 206-297-3024 or

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