On Monday, April 8, Brittany Fogle spoke to students about Water Missions International and how to get involved with the organization. Four students, Eden Katz, Alison Patterson, Queen Nguyen, and Mitchell Jones, invited Fogle to speak as part of a project for their introductory level psychology class, Honors 163.
Patterson described why they chose to collaborate with Water Missions for their project, which focused on drawing awareness to a cause. She said, “We just felt like it was the best choice because it’s based in Charleston and it is a really good organization.”
In its 12 years of existence, Water Missions has helped over two million people in 50 countries. Its founders, Molly and George Greene, were inspired to create the organization after a hurricane in Honduras left hundreds of people without water. Its roots as a disaster relief organization are still at the heart of Water Missions. “We’re a disaster response organization first,” said Fogle, “but the reality is everyday is a disaster for a lot of these places.”
Water Mission’s sustainable water purification system ensures that their partner communities are able to have clean drinking water for the foreseeable future, creating a long-term solution for a pressing problem. “We hire within the country 95 percent,” said Fogle. “We are all about empowering the communities that we serve.”
By hiring within the country, Waster Missions is able to create economic opportunities for locals, as well as hiring people who possess deeper understanding of the cultures and communities than outsiders. Fogle described the result of international work that does not hire locals, saying “What we’ve seen with NGO’s in the past is when [foreigners] go in and try to tell people what to do, it doesn’t reallywork well.”
Despite their large international presence, Water Missions has a large presence in the Charleston community as well, employing 2,500 people full time at their plant in North Charleston. In addition, they depend on help from volunteers to keep everything rolling. “Here is Charleston, what’s so fortunate for you guys is you can actually volunteer,” Fogle said. “We work with a lot of schools, College of Charleston especially since y’all are just in our backyard.”
Volunteer positions with Water Missions generally run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Fogle expressed the importance of getting involved in the organization, saying, “It’s cool to build something that will save lives.”