By Don Barone
AUG 5, 2015
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”
Dateline: Northern Open #2
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”
~ Muhammed Ali
It’s the moment, before the rainbow.
Earth at its cleanest.
Only the smell of raindrops linger, the air, fresh, scrubbed of the day.
It’s the moment, of rebirth.
“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”
~ Arthur C. Clarke
I am standing in the Ramada parking lot in Syracuse, N.Y….and I’m speechless. A rainstorm has just passed through, the air is so clear it makes the sunset look like a painting by Monet.
I am staring at an angler’s wrapped truck.
I have seen hundreds of wrapped trucks in my life, no offense to those who wrap the trucks, but not a one has ever stopped me dead in my tracks.
‘Cept this one.
I’m staring at a wrapped truck that has a photo of a young African child drinking water from a spigot.
Drops of rain cover the truck, drops of rain cover the child’s face.
I turn to see a man working on tackle in a boat, “…db…that’s my truck…”
I turn back and look at the truck and watch the raindrops run down the child’s face.
“…db…do you know that we in America flush our toilets with water that is much cleaner than the water millions of people around the world drink.”
I say nothing for a moment, then I walk over to the man in the boat:
“Who are you?”
“And what exactly is it that you do?”
“I bring water to the thirsty.”
“…I’m asking him to change his ways…”
Understand this please, 5 minutes before I walked out the hotel door I was on the phone with my wife, Barb, I was telling her I didn’t have a clue as to what story to write here at the Open.
Opens are my hardest gigs, we have a couple hundred boats, 80 percent of the people fishing I don’t know, have never heard of, and I’m only at the gig for a short time.
You show up and try and write a story in a day facing those odds.
On the phone I was frustrated, I told my wife exactly this, EXACTLY: “I’m going to go take a walk outside maybe something will fall out of the sky, hope so.”
I write about we are all on the same bus, we just ain’t driving it.
But trust me on this, there is a bus, there is a driver, and only he knows where your next bus stop will be.
Sometimes, it’s a Ramada parking lot.
“I run a nonprofit that goes into poor countries and drills wells for people so that they have access to clean drinking water. A billion people lack the chance to drink clean water, instead they have to walk miles to bring home to their family a bucket of dirty water.”
I’m leaning on the boat of an Open’s angler who has drilled wells FOR FREE for over 300,000 people in Zimbabwe and other countries in Africa.
Bruce Whitmire from Texas is fishing all nine Opens so, “I can walk across the stage and at least for a couple seconds make people aware of the thirsty.”
The dude is using water to get his message about thirst across.
“I was in the Air Force for 10 years, aircraft mechanic, once took care of President Reagan’s Air Force 1 in Germany, but left the service when my father got sick, came home to help take care of him.”
Then: “My father and I used to fish together, one day he went out in my boat had an accident, fell overboard, took eight days to find his body, the darkest eight days of my life. I walked away from fishing for 20 years after that.”
Me: “So let me get this right, you are using water as a vehicle to get your message about the thirsty across and yet it was water that killed your father…”
Me: “Huh, what, why…”
Bruce: “Jesus once said ‘I was thirsty and you gave me a drink and invited me in and that when you give a drink to the least of us you are giving a drink to me.’
And when you are at a bus stop, all you can do is smile…and listen.
“…and no message could have been any clearer…”
Across the parking lot from the joint I’m staying at there’s this local Mom & Pop Ice Cream stand, I invite Bruce over, buy him a Root Beer Float, and over a medium Raspberry Sunday with real whip cream…I listen:
“Kids in Africa go to school so that when they come home they can bring with them a clean bucket of water, many times we drill wells near the school and when you do that you accomplish more than just quenching thirst.”
Bruce told me that there is “…fresh water under Africa, even under the desert, but I’ve had to drill holes a long way to find the water sometimes, once drilled down 1,450 feet before we hit the water.”
And then I ask this, “Who is the kid on the side of your truck, who is the kid in the picture, do you know anything about him?”
Bruce just smiles.
“…if you want to make the world a better place…”
“I don’t know how old he is, he lives in a rural village in Zimbabwe, and when I say village what I really mean is maybe half a dozen or dozen huts clustered around each other.”
“Before we drilled a well near a school his chore for the family was to go out with a bucket and find water and carry it home. Sometimes he would go to a water hole and the cattle or other animals would get there before he would and drink all the water and then he would have to set off looking for another hole to fill the bucket. Sometimes he would walk five miles one way before he found water.”
“By drilling that well I know for a fact it improved his health, it also allowed him to get an education because now he could go to school and just go to the well after class, fill up his bucket and carry it home, no more spending all day searching for mud holes to drink from.”
“Every well we can drill meets several needs for kids like Isaiah and their families, they can use the water to drink, to bathe, use the water to grow a garden, water for their animals, and improve their health by not drinking what is basically, mud.”
“…take a look at yourself…”
Riley drinks cleaner water than young children like Isaiah…and Riley is my wife’s Shih Tzu.
I have three bottles of designer water in a cooler in the back of my truck and yet other folks are drinking water out of mud holes.
Frankly, I’m surprised the bus driver even lets me on the bus anymore.
Believe if you Believe.
Wonder if you Wonder.
I’m not a bible believer type of guy, I believe as a writer the bible is a great work of art, nothing less, nothing more.
But then comes the bus, and the bus, brings me to a fisherman whose mission, and yes I mean mission when I say it, a fisherman who brings water to the thirsty.
“I believe db it is always the right time to do the right thing.”
You know of course, it is up to us, to fix this.
Kings, Queens and Politicians say they will, fix it, but don’t.
Multi-national conglomerates say they will, fix it, but don’t.
Change, begins with one.
I can’t help a billion people, but I can darn sure help one, person.
As can you.
One man, in one Open’s bass boat has changed the lives of 300,000 people.
No matter what your religion or political beliefs we will never be the Kind in Man as long as we let others drink out of mud holes.
And so, the bus ride stopped, at holes of mud.
“…and then make a change.”
Man In The Mirror
“We, all of us, could do a much better job of evoking what someone has called the universal principle of human altruism: The urge in us all to help others who are in danger.”
For more information, or to help Bruce bring water to the thirsty, visit: www.globalwaterpartners.net