One of the basic necessities of life is water, but there are still nearly 1 billion people who have no access to sources of pure drinking water, making way for water borne illnesses to end the lives of nearly 5 million people a year.
To fix this problem sounds like a huge undertaking, but Dr. Ted Mettetal from the small town of Athens, Texas felt called to do something about it. It all started when Dr. Mettetal began going on short-term medical mission trips in the mid-1970s. âI found that everywhere you go, peopleâs biggest problem is getting clean water,â he said.
Many of the communities in places like Uganda have a source of water for the community, but itâs surface water, often contaminated by animal feces, people bathing and other pollutants. âOne percent of the water is drinkable,â Dr. Mettetal pointed out.
Not only was this water not fit to drink, members of families would spend all of their days hauling water, taking up time that could be used to earn money for their needy families, go to school, or tend to young children. Dr. Mettetal said the average American consumes 300 gallons of water a day, which includes water for bathing, washing clothes and watering plant life. âImagine trying to carry that five gallons at a time,â he said.
Dr. Mettetal explained that these people donât have access to water because the countries they live in are corrupt and/or bankrupt, making it difficult to have a municipal water supply like cities do in this country.
It was in 2009 that Dr. Mettetal had a thought when preparing for a mission trip to Mexico. He was buying bottled water. âI stood in front of an aisle of water, and God gave me this thought, âWhat would it look like if there was bottled water sitting on that shelf that gave 100 percent of its profits to clean-water projects in the developing world?ââ
Dr. Mettetal thought that was a great idea, but at first was wondering who would do that. He eventually realized that it was he that needed to get this going.
He began his venture by talking to companies that did donate some of its profits to clean-water projects, but none of them 100 percent. He realized a new company would have to be created, but he didnât know anything about starting up a business.
However, Dr. Mettetal couldnât let this idea go. He was waking up at nights from terrible dreams of children sick and dying because of bad water. Thatâs when he shared his idea with his friend, Steve Akin, who had also done some foreign mission work.
After more prayer and talking to others, the pair started its own water bottling business that gives 100 percent of its profits to bringing clean water to people in developing countries. They now have a board of directors, and call themselves Hope Springs. The business side is Hope Springs Inc., which sells a 24-bottle case of 0.5 liter bottles. Once the company pays all necessary expenses and taxes, then it donates 100 percent of its profits to the non-profit side of its organization, Hope Springs Water. Dr. Mettetal notes that the water is natural spring water.
Hope Springs Inc. currently has no paid employees. They run everything with volunteer work, enabling the organization to truly give 100 percent of its profits to drilling wells.
Now you can purchase Hope Springs bottled water in Brookshireâs stores all over the state, including the Brookshireâs grocery store in Sweetwater, as well as some other stores around Athens, with plans to get the water into more stores around the country.
âWeâre excited about the good the water sales are doing for other countries,â said Charlie Peek, manager of the Brookshireâs store in Sweetwater.
Dr. Mettetal heard from a teacher at a school in Bunyagira, Uganda, where Hope Springs Water recently completed a well for a village of 650 people living in the hills east of Kampala, Uganda. âThis is the first time in the history of that village that they will have a source of pure water,â he said. They used to only drink from a swamp located at the bottom of the mountain they live on, which caused much illness and death, especially to the very young and old.
The Uganda teacher, named Grace, said in an email to Dr. Mettetal, âWith great joy I would like to inform you that the construction of a borehole in Bunyagira has been successfully finished. Finally, clean water has come to Bunyagira.â
Hope Springs has also dug three water wells in Nicaragua and is planning one in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in central Mexico for a village of Tarahumara Indians.
Water sells are picking up for Hope Springs. Dr. Mettetal said they havenât spent a lot on advertising because they want to use as much of their profits for actual water wells instead. Spreading the news about his water bottling company through word of mouth has helped. He said they do well when churches and other groups help spread the word in different communities, and when church groups and volunteer organizations use the bottled water in their outreach efforts.
Hope Springs does have a website, hopespringswater.org, and they have a Facebook page.
Dr. Mettetal and his group are currently talking to other grocery chains to get their bottled water in more stores, and he said there are some possibilities that the water will be in more stores soon. He encourages people to request that the water be sold in the stores they shop at.
However, the simplest way to help is to purchase the water, he says. âThere are a lot of people who want to help those in need, but havenât been able to for one reason or another. You can do something as simple as buy bottled water, and you will literally participate in saving lives,â he said.
Buying bottled water is what many people do anyway, so it really isnât a stretch, Dr. Mettetal points out. There water may be a little more expensive since the water is sold by a non-profit company, but it allows a person to contribute a few dollars at a time to those in desperate need of something most of us can get by simply turning on a faucet.