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Gainesville boy uses his entrepreneurial skills to provide wells for a foreign land

Grayson Smith believes 'Everyone deserves to have clean water'

POSTED: October 16, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Photos by SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Gainesville resident Grayson Smith has a lofty goal. He wants to raise $4,800 to build a well in a Third World country. If he's successful, an entire village would benefit from his generosity.

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Like most boys his age, Grayson Smith loves playing video games, building things and catching insects.

But these days, the 11-year-old is setting his sights on a new passion: helping a third world village get access to clean water.

After seeing a video showing the plight of millions of individuals forced to use contaminated water for their daily survival, Grayson decided that he couldn’t turn his back on their struggle.

"They have to do everything with that water. They cook, clean and bathe with it. It’s the same water that the animals are in," Grayson said.

By American standards, the murky water the villagers are forced to consume wouldn’t be considered fit for washing a car.

"Until we saw that, I had absolutely no idea that people had to live like that in this day and age," said Rodney Smith, Grayson’s father.

"When I saw the video with my dad, I was shocked," Grayson said.

"Once I saw it, I knew I had to help. It’s the right thing to do."

But Grayson isn’t sitting idly. After watching the video produced by Water for LIFE missionaries, he became an ambassador for the group that is working to build wells in more than 20 different Third World countries.

Water for LIFE is one of several missionary efforts by LIFE Outreach International, a "Christian, faith-based organization committed to expressing God’s love in both word and deed."

"I’ve been raising money for about two weeks. So far I have $870. I’m kind of surprised I have that much already," Grayson said.

"I have been sending emails and making phone calls. I’ve been asking friends and family. I set up a booth at Mule Camp (Market) and I’m going to go door-to-door in my neighborhood."

To build his well, Grayson will need to raise $4,800.

"That money will build a well and help 1,000 people get clean water for the rest of their lives," he said.

Although he doesn’t have a deadline in mind to raise all the money, he does say he wants to help the village "as soon as possible."

"I was thinking, maybe he could raise $500. I thought that would be a really worthy goal and would help a lot of people," said Andrea Smith, Grayson’s mother.

"But he was like, ‘No mom. I want to go all the way.’ He definitely seems to have a heart for this.

"We’re learning from him. His enthusiasm is making me think that maybe we collectively have set our goals too small."

To carry out his big plan, Grayson developed a multistep action plan, which includes holding a garage sale and getting help applying for a grant. He also plans to pass out bottled water and information about Water for LIFE in front of local stores on the weekends.

"These people need everyone’s help," Grayson said. "Everyone deserves to have clean water."

Grayson is also hoping that his well helps the girls in that village get a proper education.

"The school-age girls have to go and get the water from the rivers for their families. It’s usually a mile or more away," Grayson said.

"They carry it on their heads with giant buckets. It takes hours and hours per day to walk all that way, so they don’t have time to go to school. So they can’t get an education, so that puts them in the position to not be able to get a job.

"It’s a cycle of poverty."

To Grayson, the crystal-clear water we enjoy in the U.s. is a reminder that others are missing what he takes for granted.

"We all take clean water for granted because we can get it whenever we want," Grayson said. "We don’t think that there are people who don’t have water like us, but there are.

"This is going to change their lives."



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