For those of us born in the first world, the myriad inherent privileges are so commonplace that we rarely give them a second thought, and it is only when we are reminded that others do not share the same liberties can we truly fathom just how lucky we are. Danielle Saleh is one such person who is prompting the message with her newfound business, Water for Water, which sells bottled water within Australia in an effort to provide clean water to those who do not have it so freely. As 100% of the business’s profits go towards facilitating pure drinking water in Calacoon City, Philippines, people who drink Water for Water can consciously help those less fortunate attain one of their fundamental human rights while unconsciously exercising their own.
As Danielle puts it, this is not just about corporate social responsibility – providing clean water to the third world is the fundamental reason why Water for Water exists, and is the heart and soul of its business. Currently stocked in Gloria Jeans (with the view to expand to additional distributors in the very near future), Danielle explains that the business’s design is to allow people to make a difference in a relatively fuss-free way – after all, “bottled water is always going to be purchased, so why not attach a cause to it?” In turn, people have an opportunity to help others without going out of their way to do so.
While people purchasing the water may not be going out of their way, Danielle and her business certainly are. After she finished traveling the world filming a social justice documentary last year, Danielle’s eyes were opened to precisely the sentiment mentioned earlier – and she arrived home with a staunch determination to help organise a change however she could. And so six months ago, Water for Water came to fruition, born out of a desire to improve the situation for the 40% of Filipinos who have limited or no access to clean water.
“There is so much need for clean water in Asia, and in the Philippines, water and sewage is on the same level, so they cannot dig a well,” she explains. “As a result, the leading causes of deaths and illness in the Philippines are food and waterborne diseases such as bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever.”
The only way to obtain clean water is via a purification centre, which is exactly what Water for Water is investing in. As it is part of the Filipino culture to pay for water, Danielle’s business is setting up a community centre which will receive all the money, thereby ensuring each dollar spent on water goes back into the community. Plans for the centre include medical services, a library and a children’s area.
“We are taking a holistic approach – instead of being a charity, we are building services,” says Danielle. “It’s all about integrating Water for Water with the community there as well as over here by getting people involved.”
Locally, Water for Water has ensured it’s kept to its moral premise by sourcing water from a sustainable spring and aligning with a proven and a reliable social pioneer, David Bussau, whose foundation is responsible for enacting Water for Water’s objectives within the Philippines. “Based on David’s experience, we know what we are aiming to do is a proven model that has worked,” Danielle describes of the decision to work with David on Water for Water. The business’s current goal is to get the message out there as much as possible so more people can get involved and understand what the business is trying to do. Artist Beastman has gotten on board with the cause by choosing Water for Water as his beneficiary in aMBUSH Gallery’s upcoming charity Keg Show, and Danielle has even tapped into her creative side with the project by ensuring the packaging is as appealing to customers as possible. As she explains, it is all about building loyalty to the brand – and it’s one whose ambitions are far beyond the business itself.
Water for Water can be found at any Gloria Jeans coffee shop, and you can keep up to date on its progress via its blog.
words: Seema Duggal