Brandon Holder awoke one morning and, for some reason, felt compelled to look up Isaiah 12:3.
The High Point University senior found the passage – “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” – and knew the verse was telling him to follow through on an idea.
In March, the Clayton High School graduate had spent a week in Haiti on a spring break service program arranged by the university. The purpose was to teach English in schools in Cange and other villages in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
While there, Holder and his fellow volunteers discovered the locals had more pressing needs than learning another language.
“We inevitably noticed the problems and hardships the people were facing daily,” said Holder, whose church, Mount Moriah Baptist in Raleigh, helped send him to Haiti.
“Cange is centered right on Lake Péligre, and they didn’t have a very good system to get water from the lake and surrounding tributaries to their gardens,” he said. “It wasn’t efficient at all. They were carrying around five-gallon buckets, and they would just hope it rained. Food insecurity and malnutrition were really big issues.”
Those hardships followed Holder home, and then they began to weigh on him. In July, he resolved to help make it easier for the people of Cange and surrounding villages to water their gardens.
“I knew I wanted to do something; I just hadn’t figured out what yet,” Holder said. “One morning I woke up with the verse Isaiah 12:3 on my mind. I had never heard it in my life. It’s some pretty powerful stuff.
“I said, ‘I can’t not do it now. I’m invested in it now.’ ”
The ‘water wagon’
The verse propelled Holder, a business major, to form a company he named Water the World; Live Locally, Give Globally. The company became the vessel he would use to accomplish his new mission.
The venture became a family project for Holder and his parents, Julie and Wayne. By mid-August, they had developed a prototype of what can be described as a water wagon.
A steel cart housing a 35-gallon tank would enable the people of Cange to carry seven times as much water from the lake or a stream in one trip – and with far less strain. For watering gardens, the tank features a solar-powered pump that produces a flow comparable to that of a garden hose.
The pump’s battery and solar panel are removable and can be stored indoors, even though both are waterproof.
Holder said the sustainability of the solar panel is key in places like Cange. “There’s no upkeep since you don’t have to find an outlet to charge (the battery),” he said. “They have electricity in Cange but not in the small villages around it. And while we were there, the electrical grid went down three or four times a day. It would get too overloaded, and it could be down five minutes or five hours.”
A global goal
Water the World launched at the end of August. In addition to connections in Haiti, Holder now has contacts in Panama and a friend with ties to four African countries that he hopes can benefit from his device.
Holder is now talking with local manufacturers about wholesale production to help keep costs down.
“It’s just something that I knew I wanted to do, and then the way it happened proved I was supposed to do it as well,” he said. “We’re not in this to make money; we’re just in it to help people and have the capability to help people, and they need that kind of help, so why not?”
Mount Moriah Pastor Michael Tolar sees Holder’s endeavor as a lesson in the value of short-term mission trips.
“The neat thing for me is that God used a foreign mission trip to prompt a change in Brandon’s heart,” Tolar said. “God got his attention and showed him what he can do to make a difference in the world.”
High Point University has also acknowledged Holder’s work. His project is one of five the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship has chosen to showcase during a ribbon cutting for the new Cottrell Hall on Oct. 3.
For more information on Water the World, email firstname.lastname@example.org.