WATERisLIFE: A 4 year old's bucket list

January 13, 2014Filed under Print and Public Interest, NGO
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Nkaitole flew high above the earth so that we might gain some perspective. And for a child who’s never been in a hot air balloon before, that’s a pretty big deal. It’s Nkaitole’s first time seeing the world from 1,000 feet in the air, looking down onto the treetops. Normally, his time is spent underneath those same trees, escaping the African sun after a hot day of work. He has never seen a propane-fueled flame that can be turned on and off whenever the pilot wants. He’s used to rubbing two sticks together until they are hot enough to light the tinder. And, unlike most kids his age, he’s never seen a balloon before. Not just one as big as this either, but a balloon of any size. Because in Nkaitole’s remote village, they don’t have the same luxuries we do. Not even close, considering they don’t have clean water to drink. And, as a result, one in five children die before their fifth birthday. Which makes this hot air balloon ride more than just an opportunity to see the world from a new perspective. It makes this hot air balloon ride one of the many things on Nkaitole’s bucket list. Something no four year old should even have in the first place. To make a change in the life of Nkaitole and other children like him, donate to WATERisLIFE.com.

Unlike most four year olds, Nkaitole’s best memories may be in his rearview mirror. These are memories that probably aren’t very great to start with, considering where he lives in sub-Saharan Africa—a place so remote, it’s impossible for kids to grow up with the same fond memories of childhood that we do. He’d never sat behind the wheel of a go-cart before today, or even a regular car for that matter. Which means memories of sitting on his father’s lap, driving the car down the road, are something he’ll miss out on. He’ll never have the memory of a family road trip, fighting with his sister in the back of the van. Instead, he will remember seeing her do manual labor at the age of five. And he’ll never have the memory of his parents driving him to the local convenience store, treating him to an ice-cold drink when he’s thirsty. What takes its place is the memory of him walking daily to the nearest watering hole to fetch water that’s not even safe to drink. That’s the same water that kills one in five children before their fifth birthday. So as you can imagine, this go-cart ride is bigger than just a go-cart ride for Nkaitole. Not just because it’s a positive memory for a change, but because it’s one of the many things that make up his bucket list. Something no four year old should even have in the first place. To make a change in the life of Nkaitole and other children like him, donate to WATERisLIFE.com.

Nkaitole can’t run from his problems and, it turns out, can’t fly from them either. Instead, this airplane ride is just a temporary escape from the realities of his situation. The reality is that prior to this trip, he didn’t own a suitcase. So his mother lent him her dirty pocketbook, bedazzled in fake jewels, to pack his tattered clothes in. He’d never been through an airport security screening before. The only security he knew was the thorn bushes he helped set up around his village to keep the lions from eating the goats and cows. Or worse. And when he’s been thirsty, there’s never been a flight attendant to bring him a bottle of clean water. Because the water sources in his village are unfit for human consumption. So much so that the water kills one in five children before their fifth birthday. That’s why Nkaitole’s first airplane ride has no happy destination. Rather, it’s just one of the many things that make up his bucket list. Something no four year old should even have in the first place. To make a change in the life of Nkaitole and other children like him, donate to WATERisLIFE.com.

As the tide rolls out, Nkaitole’s future might go with it. But it doesn’t have to, even though the odds are stacked against him. He’s from a remote village in sub-Saharan Africa where children don’t exactly have it easy. He’s not used to beach vacations with his family because he’s far too busy for that. Each morning, he wakes up early to herd the cattle his village uses for milk and food. It’s an important job for a child. He’s never chased waves before today; he’s the one who could be chased—mostly by hyenas, elephants or lions. He’s never even seen the ocean before. Technically, he’s never seen blue water. The water in his village, shared with the livestock, is brown and full of disease. And since there’s nothing else to drink, it ends up killing one in five children before their fifth birthday. So for Nkaitole, this day at the beach isn’t a day at the beach at all. It’s just one of the many things that make up his bucket list. Something no four year old should even have in the first place. To make a change in the life of Nkaitole and other children like him, donate to WATERisLIFE.com.

Advertising Agency:DDB, New York, USA
Chief Creative Officer:Matt Eastwood
Executive Creative Director:Menno Kluin
Group Creative Director:Andrew Mckechnie
Associate Creative Director:Frank Cartagena, Sam Shepherd
Head Of Design:Juan Carlos Pagan
Designer:Brian Gartside
Photographer:Alec Helm, Frank Le Blanc
Retoucher:John Cason
Head Of Production:Ed Zazzera
Producer:Nina Horowitz
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