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in 2005, Jars of Clay launched a grassroots campaign among fans to assist Sub-Saharan African
communities with the fundamental need of drinkable water by funding and building 1,000 clean
water well systems. Achieving the milestone in 2010 through their organization Blood:Water
Mission, the help-minded band discusses their history with and growing hopes for Africa.
CCM: What first inspired you to get involved with the clean water wells Blood:Water Mission now
provides for these African communities?
dan Haseltine: During our first trip to Africa in 2002 to learn more about the Hiv/AiDS crisis,
we were going through this dry riverbed and downriver people were sticking their faces in these
holes. i asked one of our people, “What are they doing?” He said, “They’re drinking.” if people are
wrestling with Hiv, a disease that destroys their immune system, and the water they’re drinking
is filthy, it’s obvious—it’s the water that’s actually killing them. Blood:Water Mission is a way to
connect with communities in Africa and communities in America to creatively do something about
the water and Hiv/AiDS crisis.
CCM: What other improvements have you guys observed in communities as result of access to
Charlie lowell: Hospitals have told us they don’t see as many cases of preventable diseases.
people aren’t dying from something simple and preventable like diarrhea. One community told
us, for the first time ever, there were no cases of cholera. When we asked Dorcas, the leader of
a women’s group we visited in northern Kenya, what it meant for her to have clean water in her
community, she said, “yes, health is better. yes, children are in school. But look at my skin!” She
felt beautiful, and there was such dignity beyond just safe, clean water.
CCM: is there a Jars song that recounts your work with these communities?
dan: We wanted “Life Gives Heat” (from Good Monsters) to be a thoughtful critique of the way the
West typically goes to Africa. it was an apology to the African people saying we are sorry we come
into your communities and tell you what we think you need. We desire to learn what your dreams
are. We want it to be your passion. How do you want to build your communities? We want you to be
the hero of your own community.
CCM: 1000 wells completed. How does this milestone encourage the future of Blood:Water Mission?
dan: There are still over 320 million people without clean water—that is more than the population
of the entire US. We are far from done. We will be celebrating this first milestone with a concert at
the Ryman Auditorium in nashville in May, but it will be an invitation to move deeper in continuing
to empower communities in Africa to see a new future.
Jars of Clay
For more information
about the concert
celebration or to