Alumni Honors welcomes back and re-honors past World of Children Honorees who have done more than we ever expected or imagined since we gave them a World of Children. In April 2016, we honored Ryan Hreljac, Founder of The Ryan’s Well Foundation, with an Alumni Award.
The Ryan’s Well Foundation brings clean water and sanitation to vulnerable youth and their families in order to help them lead healthier lives. The foundation grew out of an idea Ryan had when he was just 6 years old to help children have access to clean water. By providing communities and schools with access to potable water and sanitation, Ryan’s Well has successfully empowered a million people in 1,000 communities across 16 countries. Clean water allows children to attend school and their entire families to lead happier, healthier, more productive lives.
We asked Ryan if any particular young people stand out in his memory from all the people he’s met in his work and travels. In response, he told us about Walter.
“Recently, I was visiting a rural school in Uganda where we did work last spring. This was one of our bigger projects and the well we’d built was also providing for the local community. The school had become quite the busy hub.
“There was one middle school student with a disability who had his own custom wheelchair – it looked like a modified tricycle. Even in the busy schoolyard, he was hard to miss. There are no real roads where we were in Uganda so I couldn’t even begin to imagine how difficult life would be trying to get through an average day in a modified tricycle…but he was laughing with another student under a tree when I saw him. I went over and introduced myself and found myself in the middle of a comedic conversation about last night’s English Premiere “football” game. I found out that the student’s name was Walter and he was actually in his first year of secondary school. He said that he wanted to be an accountant when he grew up. It’s always amazing for me to see children who are in a disadvantaged situation approaching the future with a smile on their face. “
Thanks to the well Ryan’s Well built at Walter’s school, he and his friends didn’t have to leave school mid-day to fetch water for their families. They can now all attend school full days and Walter is closer than ever to his dream of becoming an accountant.
The Ryan’s Well Foundation will use World of Children funding to construct wells that will provide water for three primary schools in Togo. The wells will provide water to approximately 1,000 students like Walter who will no longer have to miss school to fetch water for their families.