Believed In

Has anyone ever believed in you when times were down? Did it change your life? Do you ever wonder what they saw? I sure do and those moments sure have changed my life.

In 2010 I sat plugged into my TogoTellecom modem, looking out the louvered windows at the yellow weaver birds outside. I was living in West Africa and had just finished my first season of well drilling–by hand. It’d been rough but we’d ended the water crisis in a village by sinking 7 wells, pinwheeled across their 115 household community, and a few more in others. The page finally loaded and I hurriedly clicked “contact us” on a newly launched Water4 website.


I shared who I was, that we’d made drilling tools and pumps from scrap materials, and had dug a dozen wells. In my message I asked if, since we had no money, we could see pictures of their drilling tools to copy with local materials found nearby.  I can remember a solid six defining moments in my life where someone believed in me. Water4’s reply was one of them. 

“We’ll do you one better, we’ll bring them to you.” 

11 years later, I am humbled to lead Water4 alongside the volunteers who believed in me. We’ve grown and adapted to not only serve nearly 2 million people to date, but to refining a sustainable solution that we know can end the global water crisis. 

Believing in others is what we’re all about at Water4. Just like someone believed that I could do more than 7 wells in a small community in Togo, we believe that local people can solve local problems and be the local heroes.  We don’t look down on people living in poverty, we look up to them — because the pressures of hardship create leaders like diamonds from coal — who rise above us all to achieve and defeat so-called “impossible things.”  Character, after all, is rarely produced in comfort. Right now Water4 equips, trains, and invests in 19 businesses and 505 employees working in rural Africa. I’ve seen these business leaders transform, not because they were born into greatness, but because they grasped the hand-up and belief that the Water4 model offers. 

Ben Liringa Koli leads AEDR based in Eastern DRC. Ben and I met in 2013 while he was working as an assistant for the university he graduated from. Ben, who was at the university where I was to train well drillers, dropped everything to help at every moment, worked tirelessly, rested and ate last, and loved people with a heart at least 3 sizes bigger than he is at 5-foot-4. He had grown up poor, but I believed in Ben because he had that special recipe of having endured hardship, a humble spirit, and he worked harder than all the rest. 

We selected him for leadership and 7 years later Ben now leads his organization of 50 employees as the premier water organization in the entire region of their country. He has a beautiful daughter, a lovely home, and a future whose crescendo has no end. He’s just one of the hundreds we get to see growing and advancing through mentorship each day. 

Who believed in you? Did it change your life for the better? Thank you for paying that forward by believing in Water4. You empower us to make lasting change. Local people solving local problems sustained by local resources for a future with safe water, always. 

Thank you– Matt Hangen, President and CEO. Water4.org

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