When Seth Maxwell hit Hollywood to pursue his dream of acting, he never expected to become the leading man in a real life drama.
It all began in college with his exposure to pictures -- photos taken by a friend who had just returned from a world tour. The pictures showed children in developing countries drinking water out of puddles, ponds and swamps—dirty, contaminated water that Seth thought looked like chocolate milk. He soon discovered that almost a billion people around the world don’t have access to safe drinking water and, even more shocking to a young American college student, that more than 4-thousand children under five die every day due to contaminated drinking water.
“I couldn't ignore it. My entire world view was shattered," says Seth.
That’s when he really decided to act. In 2008, he founded The Thirst Project with a formidable mission is to end the clean water crisis. In 6 years, The Thirst Project has raised over $8 Million, 100% of which has been used to fund the construction of over 932 water projects in 12 countries, giving safe water and hope to hundreds of thousands of people.
According to Seth, one well can provide water for up to 500 people at the relatively low cost of $8-thousand to $20 thousand, depending on the country.
“To put it in perspective,” Seth says, “the estimated cost to provide the whole world with safe water is just $18 billion. We spent more than that on consumer products in just one day on Black Friday last year."
The Thirst Project hires local companies to drill the wells and provides oversight by a technical board of experts. The board monitors the work, the costs and the maintenance of each well. The Thirst Project also requires each community to contribute either financially or with sweat equity, such as clearing brush from the site, drilling trenches and pouring concrete. Seth believes that for local residents to have a personal investment in the project is crucial for its longterm success.
The Thirst Project also provides latrines and hygiene education which must be in place to guarantee the continuing health benefits of clean water.
Seth also hopes that their mission in Swaziland – getting the entire nation safe drinking water by 2022 -- will become a blueprint for other developing countries.
“We’ve given ourselves a decade to do what nobody has ever done before which is to change the face of a nation. If we can do this here why can’t we do it everywhere?”
Meanwhile, Seth travels the world bringing his message to students from middle school through college, asking them to galvanize their energy and ideas to help solve the global clean water crisis.
“When people know they respond. We’ve seen consistently whenever we explain what’s happening, the immediate reaction is what can I do to help.
Everyone deserves this basic human right. Water is a human right.”