She Believes in Empowering Women, and It Starts With Safe Water
Having access to clean water is vital for the health and well-being of humans everywhere. Thanks to Water.org, more than 33 million people around the world can turn on a tap and have a glass of water, and safely use a toilet with proper sanitation setups. The organization provides support and resources to people in 13 countries to help resolve water-sanitation issues in their communities.
Melanie Mendrys is the brand and marketing director at Water.org. She manages the messaging and promotion of Water.org’s brand and vision, helps raise funds, and crafts captivating stories about how people's lives change after gaining access to clean water.
CircleAround caught up with Mendrys to learn more about her involvement with Water.org, and how — on World Water Day — we can better support the organization’s nonprofit mission.
CA: What inspired you to work with Water.org?
MM: My daughter. Today, women and girls spend a collective 200 million hours each day walking to find and collect water for their families. This responsibility takes away from time at school and work, time to play, and time to be with family at home. I cannot imagine such a life for my daughter, thus I am working to help end it for other mothers.
CA: What are some of the most exciting moments of your career?
MM: The moments that truly stand out are the moments I meet women and children who now have access to safe water at home, who once spent hours collecting water and now spend those hours going to school or caring for family in ways that weren’t possible before. One, in particular, is the day I met Butukan while working in Africa. Butukan has a daughter, too. Thanks to the work of Water.org and a small, affordable loan from a local partner, Butukan has access to safe water at home.
I’ll never forget what she said to me, standing in front of her water tap, wearing a beautiful yellow sweater (the same color of the jerry cans she once hauled to and from a distant pond to collect water): “Now I can keep our home and our baby clean. I can water our garden and grow banana trees. I am free from the daily labor of carrying water.”
She was everything I believe the color yellow to be — optimistic, hopeful, and bright.
CA: What are the biggest challenges and rewards of working with Water.org?
MM: The biggest challenge is one of the reasons I do what I do at Water.org — it is the fact that one in nine people in our world lack access to safe water at home. As a mom, I cannot imagine this reality for other moms and their children. We all rely on water to raise healthy families. Our access to safe water means my daughter can go to school instead of spending her day collecting the water we need to survive each day.
The biggest rewards of my work are numerous: there are more than 33 million of them! This is because, through our work, we’ve helped empower more than 33 million men, women, and children with access to safe water and the health, hope, and bright futures that flow from it.
CA: How has the pandemic impacted your work?
MM: Water took on a central role as the world faced this pandemic. We were told a first line of defense is to wash our hands and stay home – and neither is possible without access to safe water and sanitation at home. More than 2 billion people lack access to safe water or sanitation, which makes our work more urgent and more important than ever. The truth is that access to safe water at home protects and saves lives. It is critical to the health of families around the world. That is why we continue to give our everything, every day, in pursuit of our vision of safe water and sanitation for all.
CA: What are three ways we can help Water.org’s cause?
MM: Learn. Water.org’s website is a great place to start. Our site not only provides up-to-date facts and stats on the global water crisis, it also includes inspiring stories about how — when empowered with access to safe water — lives are forever changed.
Give. There is no more urgent time to address the world's water crisis than now, when people are constantly being reminded to use water to combat the spread of the virus.
Share. Share what you learn, what you know, and what inspires you about water. Use your social channels to share what you learn with an active community of friends.