JUST ONE: Motivation + Ingenuity = Clean Water

TRUE STORIES OF WORLD CHANGERS WHO STARTED ALONE: This month we share stories of individual Christians who couldn’t wait for others to tell them when to help the hurting and share the gospel. Their clear vision of a pressing need pushed them to do what they could as soon as they could.

WATERDROP SHOP / www.thewaterdropshop.com

 

By Shannon Garcia

Josh Weingart was 19 and a freshman at Illinois State University when he felt he needed to get out of his comfort zone and do something overseas. A short-term trip in the United States had opened his eyes to missions, but he had a passion for providing clean water to people around the world who don’t have it. He was looking for summer internship opportunities that would provide him the chance to serve communities that do not have access to a clean water source when he connected with CMF International’s REACH program. He was selected to spend the summer of 2010 serving in the Turkana district of Kenya.

Josh Weingart and friends digging a well in the Turkana district of Kenya.
Josh Weingart and friends digging a well in the Turkana district of Kenya.

That summer, Josh lived with the Turkana people and worked alongside Kenyan nationals, digging clean water wells for those who had never had clean water in their villages. He traveled with the drilling crew, sleeping on the ground at night and working hard each day alongside the other men. Josh was convicted by the needs he saw in Turkana and gained a new appreciation for how valuable clean water is to a community.

Josh returned home changed, but unsure how the experience would affect his long-term plans. He determined to find a way to continue making a difference.

“The kingdom of God is huge. If I let God work through me versus trying to work for him, we can get a lot more done,” he said.

As Josh returned to Illinois State to finish his degree in business management with a focus on entrepreneurship and finance, he began to dream of ways he could continue to let God work through him.

 

A Vision and a Partnership

Josh soon had a vision for a company that would use its profits to continue helping provide clean water to villages in Turkana, Kenya. He launched WaterDrop Shop in August 2012. He developed a partnership with Kenyan manufacturer Maasai Treads that employs local artisans to make high-quality sandals from recycled products like used tires. Josh imports the sandals and sells them online in the U.S. through WaterDrop Shop. The shop is committed to supporting fair trade, fair wages, and fair working conditions.

The shop offers a variety of men’s and women’s sandals available at $42 per pair. Ten percent of the profits are donated to build new wells in Turkana. Josh partners with CMF missionaries Gene and Melba Morden, his missionary hosts during his internship, to continue the work they are doing in Turkana through water projects. When he left Kenya in 2010, Josh never could have imagined that three years later he would still have an impact on the area he loved and served.

Since the birth of WaterDrop Shop, more young people have caught the vision for what Josh is doing and have joined in the efforts to help the venture succeed. Six interns now work alongside Josh in various capacities, from public relations to marketing to finance. These young people all have a heart and a passion to see people around the world have access to clean water.

 

Growing Inventory

May 2013 was an exciting month for WaterDrop Shop, as it was able to fully fund its first water well in Turkana. But Josh and his team care about more than just raising money for water projects.

“WaterDrop has raised funds for wells, but more than that, Josh continues to ask how the drilling team is doing and we believe he prays for the Turkana people often,” said Gene and Melba Morden. “Josh’s excitement for helping Turkana has convinced many people to join him in drilling more clean water wells.”

What does Josh envision for the future of WaterDrop? Right now he’s working on growing its inventory so it can expand into retail stores next year. The team also continues to look for creative ways to further the ministry and success of WaterDrop Shop. Their hope is to expand the company into the Amazon region and India in the next 10 years.

Those of us who knew Josh when he was a freshman in college could never have dreamed how his summer experience in Kenya would lead him to pursue this path in life. Josh is now a college graduate with a passion for business, but more than that, a passion for business that promotes change in the world. The future of WaterDrop Shop is bright. It will be exciting to see more wells established in the Turkana district of Kenya through the efforts of this company.

 

Shannon Garcia, former missionary in Asia, serves as CMF International’s director of mobilization. Contact her at ShannonGarcia@cmfi.org.

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