Baldy’s Thirst Birthday

On August 25, I say goodbye to my early 40s, and I’m not super happy about that. So I’ve decided to postpone Age 45 by donating my upcoming birthday to a worthy cause – and you can help.

About this time last year, I learned about a fascinating organization called Charity: Water, which provides clean drinking water to the needy in developing countries.

Many of us have no idea what it’s like to be thirsty. We have plenty of water to drink – even the water in our toilets is clean.

But many people around the world don’t have that luxury. Every day, about 1,400 children die from diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple solutions like drilled wells, spring protections and BioSand filters that help provide clean water to communities around the world.

One of the nifty things about Charity: Water is its wacky fundraising campaigns – one of which is The Birthday Project, where you ask that instead of gifts, your friends make donations (usually in the amount of the birthday boy/girl’s age, but any contribution is welcome) to help dig wells in areas that don’t have clean water.

Friends like you, reader(s).

If the members of my immediate and extended family are the only ones who kick in $45 to this campaign, it’ll amount to a pretty small drop in a bucket of the roughly $10,000 that’s needed to fund an average well – so I’m opening the door to all of you, and setting a goal of $1,000 for the Baldy’s Thirst Birthday Campaign.

Baldy's Thirst BirthdayNow, I realize most of you wouldn’t normally buy me a birthday present, but this year I’m asking you to make an exception and contribute some cash – whatever amount feels right to you – to help make life a lot better for some people in the developing world.

But, Baldy. How much of my donation will actually go to help provide water to the needy?

Great question, reader(s). Here’s the answer:


One of the coolest things about Charity: Water is its funding model. The organization has two completely separate funds: one that deals exclusively with salaries, office space and stationery, and the other that puts every single nickel collected from public donations – including the Birthday Campaign – toward the goal of quenching worldwide thirst.

Believe it or not, there are apparently more than enough people, foundations and corporations who are passionate about overhead to cover Charity: Water’s operating costs, and make the 100% Model viable.

I'm attempting to blow out the candles in this photo, not suck in the whole cake – in case you're wondering.

I’m attempting to blow out the candles in this photo, not suck in the whole cake – in case you’re wondering.

And if you need more icing on my birthday cake, when the specific water project the Baldy’s Thirst Birthday Fund helps pay for is complete, Charity: Water will provide us with photos and a GPS location so we can know exactly where our money went. (I expect it’ll take a while, but I think we can wait.)

Now, one of the criticisms I’ve heard about a lot of water-focused charities is that they’re great at start-up, but not so focused on maintenance. After a few months/years, wells can peter out – leaving the communities they were drilled for high and dry.

That’s why Charity: Water’s projects each have a plan in place to help local stakeholders make sure water flows long after installation. The organization invests in forming strong water committees – partnering with local government, and training mechanics to perform repairs.

Why WaterBut, Baldy, why Water?

Another fair question, reader(s). There are lots of things the developing world needs. Why help provide water – rather than food, fertilizer, clothing, shelter, education, capital or an assortment of other needs?

If one of these causes touches your heart more deeply than water does, go and support a charity that works in that arena instead, with my blessing. As for me, I’ve got water on my heart, for the following reasons:

Something to Drink2Aside from the fact that water is one of the most basic needs of all life on the planet, it’s also one of the most talked about topics in the Bible. As I mentioned in Part 1 of my FireWater series in 2014, the word ‘water’ appears 617 times in the New International Version of the Good Book.

And that doesn’t even include the famous ‘least of these’ passage in Matthew 25, in which Jesus Himself declares that when we give water to the thirsty, we’re giving it to Him.

Least of theseBut if you’re after more practical reasons water is the right Developing World need to focus on today, visit the organization’s Why Water? page for detailed information. Here are a few highlights:

  • Disease: Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. About 43% of those deaths are children under five years old. Access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week.
  • Time: In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours every year walking to water sources. Access to clean water gives communities more time to grow food, earn an income, and go to school – all of which fight poverty.

Water is the most basic of human needs, and it can literally be the difference between life and death. What I find even more compelling, though, is that a reliable supply of clean water can be the beginning of the transition from surviving to thriving.

Please explore Charity: Water’s website for detailed facts and figures, but for an even more compelling account of the agency’s origins and contribution to peace and prosperity on Planet Earth, listen to this Rob Bell podcast from last July entitled Water for Everyone – The Scott Harrison Interview.

Harrison is the founder of Charity: Water, and Bell – best-selling author and founding (former) pastor of the Mars Hill Bible Church – is an ongoing supporter of Charity: Water’s overhead fund.

Rob Bell, coincidentally, turned 45 last August 23 – just two days before Rob Petkau turned 44. He donated his birthday to Charity: Water last year, and in a clear case of Baldy See- Baldy Do, I got the sense that God is calling me to ride those coat tails and do the same this year.

Bell’s Birthday Project had a goal of $45,000, but raised more than $114,000 US! bell-petkauI kicked in $45 (Cdn) myself, since I listen for free occasionally to his podcast (known, eye-rollingly, as The Robcast). If you’re a regular Disciplehood reader and you feel a similar nudge for a similar reason, your donation is greatly appreciated.

But whatever your reasons, any support you can provide to the Baldy’s Thirst Birthday Fund will be greatly appreciated.

Now, it’d be great if the act of donating my birthday to this worthy cause actually kept me at age 44 for another year.

Sadly, I don’t think that’s how it works.

But making a small sacrifice that helps to alleviate world thirst just might help me stay a little younger at heart – and joining the party might do the same for you.

Only one way to find out…

Peace be with you.

Music, water and the word of God: three things I thirst for, daily.

About robpetkau

Communications professional by day, amateur musician by night, worship leader (at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Calgary) on weekends and aspiring Bible teacher in my dreams. Grateful husband to the woman who completes me. Doing-the-best-I-can dad to the son and daughter who keep me on my toes. Striving disciple of the GodMan who came, taught and died for me. Thanks for stopping by!
This entry was posted in Bible, Charity, Gratitude, Mercy of God, New Testament, Sacrifice, Water and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Baldy’s Thirst Birthday

  1. Pingback: Milestones, Part 2 | Disciplehood

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