Pick up the latest issue of REDBOOK and read my article on how you can be a part of solving the water crisis. There are six easy ways highlighted in the piece. I got the opportunity to interview many amazing people who are changing the world by bringing clean water to those who need it desperately. I interviewed many people who didn’t make it into the final draft. In fact, I could have written 100 pages on their incredible stories.
But I want to tell you a little bit more about one of the ladies that did make it in– Laura Sklaver.
It actually wasn’t the first time Laura appeared in REDBOOK. Exactly 30 years ago, in October 1981, REDBOOK featured Laura, a young, vivacious attorney, managing marriage, motherhood and a new career. The article showed several photos of this passionate mom, including one with her two young sons Ben and Samuel, wearing matching overalls and eating apples on a sunny day.
The energy and drive that REDBOOK saw in Laura was passed on to her children. As he grew, Ben Sklaver’s passion became bringing clean water to the people of Uganda. A member of the military, Ben was stationed in Africa and saw the problems firsthand. He came home and launched ClearWater Initiative, a non-profit committed to giving remote communities in Uganda access to clean water. He spent his evenings organizing water projects, and with the legal help of his mother, getting his non-profit off the ground. Laura says she bought a globe so she
could track Ben’s African travels to countries that she knew little about.
On 4th of July weekend, 2008 Ben also developed another passion in life: Beth Sagaloff. Their families were friends, but that weekend was the start of their love story. Soon the couple was engaged, but as they began to make wedding plans Ben was deployed again, this time to Afghanistan. On Independence Day weekend of 2009 the pair said goodbye, and set a wedding date for the following summer. But a few months later, at the age of 33, Ben was killed while serving his country.
After Ben’s death, thousands of dollars poured in to ClearWater, allowing the program to install several wells in Uganda. It takes just $2500 to construct a sustainable water source that serves an entire village of 500 people. Laura and Beth are committed to keeping Ben’s passion alive. Laura serves as president and Beth is the education director, going into schools to tell children why it’s important to help others and live life like Ben did.
Almost every penny donated goes to water projects. One day Laura and Beth hope to travel to Uganda and walk where Ben walked, seeing the impact they’re making in a country they’ve never visited. Beth also has a 7-year-old son, Danny, from a previous marriage that misses Ben terribly. Danny says his greatest wish is to go to Uganda.
So now you can see why a paragraph or two can hardly do this story justice. The water crisis is near to my heart and I love sharing how other passionate people, like Ben and his mom, are making a difference.