A Journey to Bring Clean Water to 4,000 Villagers in the Thar Desert, Pakistan

by Ibrahim Zafar

An email was sent out incorrectly identifying the number of beneficiaries as 40,000. We apologize for the mistake. While helping 40,000 people receive clean water in the Thar Desert, we'll need to build 40 solar powered wells to make that a reality.Thank you for all your support and we hope join us today and every day in fighting dirty water worldwide.

The journey to raising money to provide villagers in my own country with clean water access was one that I would have never been able to predict in a million years. I wish I could tell you that it’s been a dream of mine to raise money for clean water access for years, but it’s actually something that was sparked within me just over a year ago. This is the story of how I raised $100,000 to provide more than 4,000 villagers in the Thar Desert of Pakistan with clean water access.

Thar Desert, Pakistan (March 2018)

In March 2018, I was sent to Pakistan on behalf of Penny Appeal USA to film the programs in Pakistan. One of the programs that I visited was the Thirst Relief program in the Thar Desert, four hours east of Karachi. On the day we set out to go to the Thar Desert, I didn’t know what to expect. After driving for four hours, we finally ended up in the open desert.

The next 24 hours would be spent talking with locals as they explained the water crisis from their perspective. We would go from village to village, hearing stories from the locals themselves about their need for clean water. Communities would invite us to their homes to discuss their pain-points. I quickly learned that, while filming was my primary responsibility, it would not be my only one.

The stories I was hearing were shocking to say the least. These were my own people, suffering from the lack of access to the world’s most basic necessity. There were a million things within me that told me that something needed to be done, but I didn’t know what at the time.

When I came back to the US, I decided to start a campaign of my own after seeing the water crisis first hand in Pakistan. My original goal was to raise $25,000 in six weeks for one Well that would supply clean water for 1,000 villagers. After launching the campaign, it didn’t take long for the campaign to spread like wildfire and for us to reach $100,000 in just four weeks.

The video I created to raise the funds for my campaign (May 2018)

I can’t express through words the feeling I had when we reached $100,000. It was the day of Eid when we hit that mark and I remember feeling a deep calmness that day. I was with my family, it was Eid, and now 4,000 villagers in Pakistan would now have clean water access. It was a beautiful feeling.

Fast forward to present day, almost a year after the completion of the campaign, and I’m back in Pakistan where I have finally gotten a chance to visit the four communities in which the wells have been built. Visiting the communities this week has been surreal.

The villagers have expressed first-hand about how the Wells have made their lives easier, given their children more time to get an education, and allowed for the women to have more time to grow and sells crops in the local market. Their stories have shown me that the impact of clean water is real.

We hear statistics and stories about how clean water can impact people around the world, but it only becomes a reality when you see the impact for yourself. It’s amazing to see all the hard work from the last year finally pay off.

For the last year, this was all just an “if”. What “if” I can raise this amount of money. What “if” I could help provide access to clean water to those who do not have it. This week, that “if” turned into a “when”.

Inspired by Ibrahim's journey? You can join him and hundreds of others in the movement for global clean water by starting your Thirst Relief Fundraiser at launchgood.com/pennyappealusa

Thirst Relief is a Penny Appeal USA program that provides safe water to enables communities to drink, wash, clean, and irrigate their crops as well as hydrate their animals. OurThirstRelief programs lead to healthier lives, better educated communities and a route out of poverty. Visit pennyappealusa.org/thirstrelief to learn more.