Dear BLUE friend,
I am writing on a return flight home from the Dominican Republic. As I reflect on the projects completed in 2016, my mind keeps wandering to my first water project, which took place exactly 10 years ago. It was then that I met 2 individuals that still remain in my heart and mind today.
Rafael is the hardest worker I have ever met. He made swinging a pick ax look like Simone Biles competing at the Olympics. Dripping in sweat but always wearing a smile, day in and day out. He was determined to improve the quality of life for his wife and children. This mental image will forever be in my heart and mind and motivate me to strive for excellence and do whatever it takes, with a smile on my face.
Leodi was your average 8 year old boy with a pet beetle which he kept in a drawer in his living room. Each day, he looked forward to playing with his beetle and feeding it a few grains of rice and beans. It was his escape. An escape from his reality where fetching water for his family was more important than attending school. But he didn’t see it that way. He was just doing what he’s done his entire life. Living a simple life so that his family could simply live. He too, like Rafael, wore a permanent smile that brightened everyone’s day.
Their smiles are the definition of true happiness. These smiles are so contagious that he passed it along to me, and since that day, my purpose in life has been to share that with the world by Building Love and Uniting Everyone. This year BLUE was able to more than double its impact, year over year, increasing projects from 9 in 2015 to 21 in 2016. Service trips were facilitated for 397 volunteers, an increase of nearly 200 volunteers from last year. These numbers are important for countless reasons but I’ll focus on just two.
We at BLUE believe that clean water and sanitation should be a right for all who live on our planet. Two of our most basic needs are still absent in the lives of so many individuals all over the world. Approximately 663 million people don’t have access to clean water, which comes out to 1 in every 10 people. This means about 2 times the population of the United States does not have access to clean water. Researching sanitation, the numbers do not get any better. 1 Billion people across the globe lack this basic need. One Billion people in the world must use public toilets or practice open-air defecation. That is not dignity. Imagine being an 8 year-old child in a small rural community living without a safe, sanitary, private facility to use the bathroom. Imagine being one of the few kids in school who has to practice open-air defecation.
This is not dignity. Slowly but surely, BLUE is rewriting this story in many rural communities. In 2016, 201 ventilated improved pit latrines were constructed in 12 villages throughout the Dominican Republic.
Humanity needs to focus on global citizenship now more than ever. Despite increased globalization in the 21st century, our world and its citizens feel more disconnected than ever before. It’s hard to turn on the news without hearing about acts of senseless violence and political turmoil taking place all over the world. The road to a better tomorrow must start today and must begin with the future leaders of our world, today’s youth.
BLUE service trips give volunteers the opportunity to participate in a cultural exchange with people who appear to be “different than us” but in reality are just like us. They are our brothers and sisters who happen to live in another part of the world. These individuals are smart and talented. They laugh. They cry. They love. And they smile in a way that radiates throughout their entire being. Realizing this is the first step to a better world filled with love for others despite race, social class, or religion.
The BLUE immersion experience not only promotes connection but also brings to light the first hand experience of a global issue that you cannot truly understand by reading Wikipedia or watching the news. The human element of this interaction makes it real and motivates our volunteers to go out and set the world on fire. As BLUE continues to grow we hope to educate the youth of today for the great need that exists in our world while molding global citizens that will Build Love and Unite Everyone.
With all that being said, we can’t thank each of you enough for your support of BLUE Missions. Below you will find a recap of our work in 2016, which you should be very proud of. Whether it is through financial contributions or by simply sharing our social media posts, we cannot fulfill our mission without you. It takes a family to build a civilization of love and our BLUE family is second to none. The BLUE team is motivated more than ever to continue to increase the impact of our mission and we are excited to continue this journey with you to build a world with love through the unification of all.
With love and gratitude,