The founder of the nonprofit organization Wine to Water gives a highly personal account of how he came to that mission and of the work that it is doing today.
The organization, which raises awareness of the need for clean water around the world and helps to provide that water to people in need, began as an idea in the head of a young man with a talent for connecting with people and a growing awareness of the world's water problems. A biker, bartender and amateur musician with no apparent goal in life, Hendley organized a wine tasting as a fundraiser for clean-water projects and shortly thereafter found himself in contact with Samaritan's Purse, an international charitable organization. That meeting led to a job in Darfur, where he built up a team that delivered water and repaired wells in villages devastated by the genocidal attacks. The author’s down-to-earth accounts of his time there in 2004 and 2005 are interspersed with on-the-spot e-mail updates to friends, family and supervisors. His frustrations and the psychological impact of his observations and harrowing experiences are clear. On his return to the United States, Hendley married and took a mundane office job but never stopped trying to get Wine to Water up and running. With a colleague from his Darfur year, he succeeded, and through their grassroots network they began to spread their wings, undertaking water projects around the world. Although he describes several projects in India and Africa, he gives greatest attention to his work in post-earthquake Haiti, where he put to good use his knowledge of how to cut through red tape and get things done.
Hendley's well-told story—at times a bit aw-shucks, down-homey in tone—demonstrates how one person can impact the lives of many. Though not written specifically for teenage boys, it would make a great gift for a too-cool-for-school kid.