When dinner turns into an international organization changing people’s perspective of the stuff that covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface, you know it must have been an inspirational meal.
But for George McGraw that’s all it took to begin a world changing mission.
At the end of a meal one night, McGraw noticed that unlike the dinner plates, the drinking glasses were still full. In his family, finishing your plate is mandatory.
“Wastefulness was akin to theft or treason but we just didn’t think about water,” he said in a Huffington Post piece.
And sitting at a table where all the plates were scraped clean but the water was dumped down the sink while 800 million people live without clean water challenged McGraw’s perspective.
In 2011, McGraw was in the process of building an impressive resume to pair with his master’s in International Law. It was in the middle of it all that he started a nonprofit.
DIGDEEP Water is currently the only global water nonprofit working in the U.S., but McGraw does not consider his organization a charity. He says it is a justice mission.
“Charitable programs take resources from one group (“the haves”) and provide prescriptive solutions to another group (“the have-nots”). But if you consider water access a basic human right – as I do – that calculus changes,” he told Rare. “Suddenly, living without water isn’t just a problem; it’s an injustice.”
McGraw’s passion is not just providing sustainable water for communities in New Mexico to villages in Cameroon. Instead McGraw’s bigger mission is changing how everyone sees water.
“We don’t actively understand each and every day that clean water is the source of all of our triumphs, of our happiness of our prosperity,” he said in a Ted Talk. “Clean water is the engine that powers the incredible amount of empowerment we feel as Americans.”
To help people understand just how significant water is, McGraw’s organization started a challenge: to live off of just four liters of water for 24 hours. Within a week, over 580 people participated in six countries, and that number has only grown since.
McGraw is forcing people to reconsider something that has long been a part of everyday life in a new way, and is enabling impoverished communities around the world.
“The goal is to connect these two groups of people as equals in the same fight for justice,” he told Rare.
For McGraw, water poverty is something we all need to share responsibility for.
Watch the full YouTube videos credited above: The Navajo Water Lady via CBS Sunday Morning, YouthActionNet DigDEEP via MultiViking89’s channel