Imagine how much your life would change if you didn’t have access to potable water. Imagine even further that a large portion of your day was devoted to hauling water from a creek, river, or shared well so you and your family could survive.
According to international nonprofit Wine To Water, nearly 663 million people worldwide are without access to clean water, and another 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.
It is for this reason that the documentary “Beyond Water” was created. The film chronicles three teams of Wine To Water volunteers as they interact and help communities in Nepal, the Amazon, and the Dominican Republic find water resources that will ease their daily survival routines and aid them in times of crisis. Many of the volunteers work on the front lines of a devastating event, such as the earthquake in Nepal, in which access to drinkable water is essential. WTW crews are also currently aiding with the water crises in the Amazon and Dominican Republic, scene of the documentary.
There are issues, too, in the United States.
The documentary, directed by filmmaker Matt Rath and supported by Lenovo, gives a visual testament to the impact that a sustainable water source can have on cultures and communities across the globe.
The film is slated to run in Arlington at the Studio Movie Grill at 452 Lincoln Square on from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 16, followed by a Q&A with WTW staff and volunteers.
Those in attendance at the documentary screening will also have a chance to discuss the film with the documentary producer, Duane Dahl and Doc Hendley, the founder of WTW, after the show. If you are interested in attending the screening, reserve a seat by going to email@example.com.
The documentary is produced by Dahl, whose producing chops include “Must Love Dogs” and “Paul Blart Mall Cop.” He notes that the real change these groups of volunteers are making is within themselves. Dahl says many of the WTW volunteers have their own idea of what they’re going to experience given their limited knowledge of a region, but when they actually get there the story is completely different.
“They see people who are happy, enjoying their lives,” says Dahl, who is also the chief marketing officer of Wine To Water. “Their currency in these areas is their hospitality and they roll out the red carpet, so to speak. And what inevitably always happens is the people in these areas end up helping the volunteers instead.”
Wine To Water was founded in 2004 by Doc Hendley. Its mission includes improving environmental sustainability, education, women’s empowerment, health care, and economic growth through water accessibility.
The idea and the name for WTW were born out of Hendley’s first fundraiser.
Hendley was a bartender at the time who had a strong desire to utilize the bar industry as a way to bring about positive change in the world. After becoming aware of the world's water crisis, Hendley conducted fundraisers at wine tastings and bars in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area. The funds from the events were used for clean water projects around the world. The projects financed include digging and repairing wells, supplying areas with filtration systems and storage containers, and educating locals on how to maintain fresh water supplies.
“This worldwide issue is so massive and overwhelming, that we had the idea to try and break it down to show how we as individuals can actually contribute,” Dahl says.
The volunteers highlighted in the film range from their early 20s to their mid-60s, all with the same goal in mind — to help communities in need.
So, what other aspects of daily life are affected in these struggling areas without access to clean water? Well, Dahl says water access can impact things like women’s empowerment, health care, environmental sustainability, economic growth, and education.
For instance, the challenge of finding water in a region like Nepal falls on the daughter and the women of the family in their society.
“When it falls on the daughter, it’s a three-to-five-mile walk each way to get water and if she can do that in a timely manner, she then has the opportunity to then join the other children [boys] in school,” Dahl says. “But that doesn’t happen unless she gets water that is needed for the family.”
It is for this very reason that WTW’s mission is so important, he says. “If we are able to bring water to these communities, kids can go to school and get an education instead of hauling water,” Dahl reiterates. “Women in these areas also will have the opportunity to create gardens and sell the produce that they are raising and generate income for their family.”
Dahl says the water issue in and around the U.S. is also of great importance to the WTW team. “Last fall, we responded to the flooding in Jackson, Mississippi, and right after that we had boots on the ground for Hurricane Ian in Florida,” he says. “If you look at the infrastructure here in the United States, there are water issues throughout that are going to continue to come up.”
Dahl says the WTW team does its best to respond to areas that have the most need during any given time of the year.
“In most cases, it’s a no-brainer to go to a place like Turkey or Syria where they just had a major earthquake,” he says. “As these things come up its incumbent upon the leadership team to step back and say, ‘OK, how can we help, and make an impact and leverage the relationships we have to go in and make an impact.’”
Dahl says it’s not just about responding to the emergency at hand but also how WTW team members can make an impact in an area that will help in six months to a year after they are gone.
“For us, it really is, throughout the year, looking at areas of risk, looking at long-term opportunities and how we can help hopefully stabilize the water supply there,” Dahl says. “It’s always ongoing but we take pride in being able to make an impact one volunteer at a time.”
To learn more about Beyond Water and to wanted the trailer go to https://www.wtw.org/beyondwater