Posted by: mattnespoli | February 5, 2011

The Dream is Alive

By Matt Nespoli – Founder and President

Let’s face it – Water for Waslala started out as a dream. It was the summer of 2003; a year ago, Nora Reynolds (WfW VP) and I travelled to Waslala, Nicaragua for a two week-immersion trip.

During our trip, we witnessed countless injustices. After all, Waslala is a region of Nicaragua that was destroyed during the civil war of the 1980s, and still has the scars to show it: no paved roads, little electricity or telephone service, no clean water, and an education system that reaches sixth grade.

These injustices manifested themselves in cruel, heartbreaking ways. For example, I remember meeting a young girl who was about to have her right leg amputated because it had become infected months ago, but was not properly treated because the town hospital is bankrupt and dysfunctional. I also remember praying bedside by people dying of tuberculosis, a disease we in the developed world have long forgotten about.

Ultimately, Nora and I decided that of all of the injustices that faced the people of Waslala, the fact that nearly all 45,000 people were drinking water polluted with human and animal waste was the most unacceptable. So a year after our trip, we wrote a 45-page business plan for Water for Waslala, a project we dreamed would one day end this unconscionable crisis in Waslala.

Matt Nespoli speaking at the 2010 WfW Walk for Water

Matt Nespoli speaking at the 2010 Walk for Water

Nearly eight years later, I’m so energized to say that the dream is alive and well on its way to coming true. Over 3,000 Waslalans are drinking clean water today because of our efforts. And 1,000 more residents will gain access to life-giving water this year if all goes according to plan.

What’s even more encouraging is that we’re closer than ever to making Water for Waslala sustainable. The organization now employs two excellent full-time staff in Nicaragua to design our water systems and help Waslalan community members build and maintain them. In the US, our Board of Directors is expanding – we’ve added a bright new Director of Accounting, Jerica Youngken, and Legal Director, Avi Loewenstein, to our team. And we’ve recruited a small army of volunteers to manage everything from website updates to planning our major annual fundraiser, the Walk for Water.

What’s most encouraging to me is that our donors continue to understand our dream, and respond in ever more generous ways to bring that dream to fruition. As an example, last week we received a check for $30,000 from one donor – our largest single donation to date, but one that reflects the promise of our mission statement: to unchain individuals just like ourselves from the crippling health effects of drinking unclean water every day.

As we continue onward, I continue to look forward to the day when our dream finally comes true – and will continue to work hard to make that day come soon.

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