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http://water.org/johngreen
If we raise $100,000 for water.org in Ethiopia, Bill Gates will personally match it and we'll be able to get clean water through sustainable wells to 8,000 people in Ethiopia! http://water.org/johngreen


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(0:00) Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. So when I was in Ethiopia, I got to talk to this young girl, who's clinging to her brother, and I learned that her mom went to Kuwait to work, and her dad works in the city, so her grandpa takes care of them.

(0:10)She told me that she missed her mom and that worried that her brother might have pneumonia, and the way this beautiful girl held her brother just shattered me, and eventually, I looked away.

((0:19)In fact, a lot of my footage from Ethiopia is of me looking away; we drive up to the hospital past families desperate to get their loved ones good care, and I look away. I turn the camera toward preterm babies struggling to survive under not good enough heat lamps, and then I turn away.

(0:33)And then there was this little boy: too thin, very sick, life-threateningly sick, with diarrhea, who is the same age as my own son, who had the same sweet way of getting into a chair that's too big for him, while outside, his mother waited nervously for a diagnosis, for some help, and I looked away. While she waited to find out if he had malaria, I filmed this beautiful vista.

Now I think this was partly because even though these people all gave me permission to film them, these moments felt very private. But it was also hard to watch, it's hard to see kids suffer, and mothers worry, and to feel powerless before it, and it's hard because these are problems that I was unaccustomed to, I mean the poor are voiceless in too much of our contemporary discourse. This kid's mom doesn't have a Twitter or a Youtube channel.

And so we don't hear about her challenges as directly as we hear about others. Maybe that's part of what makes it easier to look away too, but regardless, I kept doing it; I have hours of footage of my camera looking away. I spent all this time in Ethiopia, and what I videotaped most was my shoes.

I've talked before about how much there is to be excited about in Ethiopia - child death has dropped by more than two thirds in 20 years, and that's amazing! As is the huge growth in school attendance rates, and the growing number of college graduates.

But Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Malnutrition is common, and almost half of Ethiopians don't have access to clean water, which is probably why that boy was so sick in the first place.

So I understand this urge to look away, but I think to change the world, we must grapple with it as we find it. I wanna live in a world where children don't die of diarrhea and malaria, where they aren't malnourished, where they can drink clean water. And the world I want to live in won't come about by me looking away.

The problem, Hank, is that if we only look away, it's hard to listen, and it is through listening that we can learn how to actually help, rather than just imposing upon others OUR ideas for what they need.

This woman - a member of the women's health army - told me that she has to walk miles twice a week to fill jerrycans with drinking water, and dirty river water is used for washing. When I asked her what her community needed most, she answered immediately: water.

Healthcare worker Abd Al-Qadir said the same, explaining that it was hard to deliver babies without water to keep everyone clean. This healthcare outpost worker, these women, this grandfather -- they all cited water as among their most basic needs.

So okay, let's not look away, let's listen. I talked to water.org and they set up a fundraiser for the nerdfighter community. All the money raised will go towards sustainable water solutions for people in Ethiopia, and if raise a $100,000 in the next 10 days, Bill Gates will personally match our donation, so every dollar we donate will count as two, and if reach our goal we can get safe water to 8,000 people.

Now that's not a solution, Hank. It's not gonna end poverty or childhood mortality, but it CAN change the lives of those 8,000 people, so if you can donate, please do at water.org/johngreen. There's also a link in the dooblydoo.

Hank, here's to trying to learn to listen, and not to look away. I'll see you on Friday.