For the past 25 years of his 30-year career, Edward D. Buckley III of Buckley and Klein has championed the civil and employment rights of working people. But for the last decade or so, he's also fought a different battle.
Buckley founded Water Life Hope Inc. a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with the charitable organization Food for the Poor to provide potable water to the people without that valuable resource.
"Clean water is the cornerstone of human rights," said Buckley. "It's the right on which all the others can build."
The Daily Report talked to Buckley about his passion to dig wells and build water systems for people in villages far removed from his daily life in Atlanta.
With so many needs in the world, why did clean drinking water become your passion?
I was reading a book called "The Price of Loyalty, George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill" (by Ron Suskind) about the Bush presidency and his Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill. In one chapter, O'Neill went on an AIDS mission to Africa and discovered that it would be relatively cheap to provide clean drinking water for an entire country and that it would make a huge impact. The administration didn't pursue his recommendation, but it got me to thinking about the importance of clean water, something we all take for granted. I began researching it on the U.N. website. The right to clean drinking water is the most fundamental of human rights, for without it, we cannot exercise our other God-given rights.
What problems have you personally seen in people without clean drinking water?
When there's no access to nearby drinking water, it's the women and children who must travel long distances to get it. They can spend a substantial part of their day just bringing back water, and if they are getting it from a stream, it's often contaminated by parasites and animal pollution. Unclean water causes sickness and shortens lives.
When women and children are spending many hours transporting water, they don't have time to get an education or engage in commerce. Walking with a 5-gallon bucket of water, (which weighs about 40 lbs.) up and down ravines causes stress to their musculoskeletal systems and can create varicose veins the size of tennis balls. Women and girls can also get attacked when they are that far from home.
There are so many reasons to fix this problem, and it doesn't cost all that much.
How did you start?
I went to Jamaica and worked with some caseworkers for Food for the Poor, (America's largest international relief and development organization, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy). We ran PVC pipe to bring water into a village of about 3,000. Then I did a small water project with a church in Honduras, where we dammed water and laid pipe to carry it to homes in a village.