In 2004, Scott Harrison served as a photojournalist for Mercy Ships in Liberia, West Africa, where he learned the life-threatening effects of contaminated water. Upon moving back to his home in New York City in 2006, he founded charity:water.
Back in 2004, Harrison left the streets of New York City for the shores of West Africa after making his living for years in the Big Apple promoting top nightclubs and fashion events. Desperately unhappy, Harrison needed a change and was interested in reviving a lost Christian faith with action and asked the question: What would the opposite of his life look like? He signed up for volunteer service aboard a floating hospital with a group called Mercy Ships, a humanitarian organization which offered free medical care in the world's poorest nations.
Operating on surgery ships, they'd built a 25-year track record of astonishing results yet Harrison had never heard of them. Top doctors and surgeons from all over the world left their practices and fancy lives to operate for free on thousands who had no access to medical care. Harrison soon found the organization to be full of remarkable people. The chief medical officer was a surgeon who left Los Angeles to volunteer for two weeks - 23 years ago. He never looked or went back. Harrison took the position of ship photojournalist, and immediately traveled to Africa.
In new surroundings, Harrison was utterly astonished at the poverty that came into focus through his camera lens. Often through tears, he documented life and human suffering I'd thought unimaginable. He fell in love with Liberia - a country with no public electricity, running water or sewage - Spending time in a leper colony and many remote villages, he put a face to the world's 1.2 billion living in poverty.
The ship's medical staff would hold patient intake "screenings" and thousands would wait in line to be seen, many afflicted with severe deformities, suffocating tumors, cleft lips, faces eaten by bacteria from water-borne diseases. Over the next eight months, Harrison met patients who taught him the meaning of courage. Many of them had been slowly suffocating to death for years and yet pressing on. These experiences formed the basis for Harrison's desire to found charity:water.
Related Links: http://www.charitywater.org/
Last Updated: Wed, Nov 6, 2013
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