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He was a boy. And his name was Ryan . . . Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Mike, Australia Nov 1, 2002
Child & Youth Rights , Human Rights , Environment , Globalization   Opinions
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I had arrived at a follow up ceremony for an environmental conference that was co-funded by the Foundation for Young Australians; and since I was on the committee that decided to fund them, I had been invited. By some freak occurrence, I was ushered in and given a seat in the front row of classic theatre - and was introduced to a small number of distinguished guests; one of them (and one whom sat down next to me) was a Canadian.

There must be something in their water. Something that makes them be so prominent in the circles of philanthropy. Canadians are always showing up here and there, all heralding a vision of a better world, and always with a smile. By co-incidence this person was from a town I had heard of as my family and I were driven through Ontario's countryside.

There were warm and inviting thoughts springing into my mind whenever I thought of a little town called Kemptville. Maybe I was imagining the tranquil surrounds. Or maybe how it would look during the amazing first months of the year, shrouded in 4 feet of snow glimmering in the reflection of the deep blue sky. Maybe I was reveling in the thoughts of a place so distanced and far away from the troubles of the world. Of the people who lived there; so carefree and relaxed, without a worry in the world. Certainly, they wouldn't have thoughts of a continent shrouded not in 4 feet of snow, but in years of drowning sunshine and roasting temperatures. And Nor would they have thought of a place without access to water. Why should they? They had found heaven, after all.

The Canadian seated next to me was the mother of a kid called Ryan. To understand who and what Ryan is, you have to cast yourself back to when Ryan was only 6. Ryan was in his first grade class listening to his teacher explain how some people in Africa didn’t have access to clean water, and how it would cost $70.00 to build a well to service a small village. And this is where Ryan's story begins, Ryan wanted more than anything to get a village in Africa clean water; and nothing was going to stand in his way until that well was built and the water was flowing.

So there I sat, marveling at such a story. And found myself reflecting not only on the efforts of the boy, but on the striking image of his mother. Who sat next to me reflecting upon what we had just learned, and though Im sure she had seen and heard it all before - she was there, after all - the look of a humbled awe on her face struck me as the most poignant thing of all.

She had over the last 6 years of Ryan’s life been witness to the revolution in positive change. The involvement of young people - some as young as Ryan - and their success in striving to make a difference and changing the lives of dozens, hundreds, and thousands of people at a time. It gives anyone who hears the story of Ryan a part of what made his journey such a success. It gives us all a sense of hope, like the hope of the African, that though the world, troubled as it may be; can be saved by even the littlest of people after all.

Must be something in their water.

The interesting thing about Ryan is that unlike any other kid his dream didn’t fade like an interest in a video game or in a new sport or in a favourite action hero. Ryan’s dream was genuine, and his commitment was resolute. Nothing was going to prevent him from getting a well being built in a village that was the exact opposite to the tranquil surrounds of Kemptville. As different as Ryan’s town and that little village in Africa were, Ryan could not have cared less - and nor was he discouraged when it turned out it cost $2000 to build a well, instead of the $70 - and so on he went, earning money from his parents at the age of 6 for doing the boring chores any 14 year old would find gravely depressing.

So before Ryan could write properly, he had raised the $2000 needed to build a well. And in time it was built, and the village rejoiced and the hundreds in the surrounding areas finally tasted clean, fresh water. Ryan, who had since turned 8 years old, was invited to the village where his pen-pal friend Jimmy Akana greeted him, and the villagers all celebrated the coming of the boy who brought the water. That was then; in the time passed - Ryan is now 12 - he has reportedly raised over $750 000 for new wells and drilling rigs throughout Uganda.

The efforts of such a young, driven, compassionate and devoted boy has brought tears to many and inspired many more. His efforts have given thousands in Uganda water, not to mention hope. Hope that out there, somewhere, is someone thinking about them. Even if they come from the sleepy surrounds of a rural Canadian town called Kemptville, or the bustle of Toronto, or the melancholy environment of suburbia; the hope of the African survives.

Sometimes, it seems, such hope is answered by the most ridiculous of people. Like a 6 year old from Canada. A 6 year old who can think of nothing else than providing water to people forced to drain the mud from a swamp for just a small amount of the precious lifeline of humanity.

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Michael Furdyk | Nov 3rd, 2002
Wow, this is a cool story. I've heard of him a few times but always missed the full scoop. This is a great interview/profile. Did you get his e-mail? You should e-mail him this story and get him to join TIG -- and nominate him as a featured member!

Jarra McGrath | Nov 5th, 2002
Lovely story mike :) Beautifully written :) Powerful message. Thankyou for sharing. :D

Andrew Lauman | Jan 18th, 2003
Very heart touching. I remember reading on Ryan in reader's digest. I love the fact that the youth of this generation will make a difference!! Cmme on,

Dharanya | Apr 1st, 2003
I am so glad to know that young people could make a difference:-)

Lucia Sui | Apr 21st, 2003
This is amazing...there's no way to describe it! And thank you for describing Canada so beautifully.

Justine | Nov 4th, 2003
I found this very hard to digest. how do so many kids in the world not care about the things around them, yet 6 year old kids like Ryan care about places with no water like Africa. For a 6 year old to realize and understand that a lot of people can't take baths or drink clean fresh water. If understanding is so hard, then obviously doing something about it is even more difficult. This story basically tells me that youth can do a lot of things, if we were determined enough to do so. This is truly an amazing story. Even teenagers don't care about the World and et this little child does and he's barely in elementry school. This is hard to believe. Most teenagers wouldn't do chores to buy things for themselves, yet Ryan, a little boy of 6 years is working to change the world.The world would be unbelievabally sad without people like Ryan. I think that's particially the reason for To let students around the globe to know aboutb World Problems and to change the world. Youth will be the future decision-making people around the World. We all need to strive to make the world a better place. Ryan should be nominated because he's doing what we can all do but haven't even tried yet. I totally agree on this story. We should stop watching the T.V and get off our couches and do something good. Nice story Mike. Thanks for enlighting me. =] -JustineC

Kimberley Cheung | Nov 6th, 2003
I thought that this story was truly amazing to read. At such a young age, this boy Ryan has already accomplished so much that has changed so many people

Rebecca Li | Nov 6th, 2003
This article is truly touching. The fact that a 6 years old boy has such a determination and that he has actually been able to accomplish his goal. It was not easy for him to earn the money. He did chores, such as taking out the garbage, washing dishes, and etc. He might have found it really disgusting, but he continued doing it, because he knows the Africans really need his help and that he would like to give the African a better living. It inspires me very much of how Ryan as a young little boy can understand so much, and be so persistent. I noticed how selfish some people are, like for example if one day your brother had a test, he couldn’t wash the dishes, and he asked you to help him, I think most of you will say no. It’s also very fascinating how much money a 6 years old can earn in 7 years. I don’t think any of the teenagers have that much money right now. I guess how much you give, is how much you get in return. This article has inspired me to try to make a difference in everyone’s lives. Not only will it be able to help them, but afterwards you will feel happy inside you too.

Thanks, Mike!
Tusye Agustina | Jan 4th, 2004
I'm speechless... Just wanna say thanks to Mike for sharing the story. Ryan's so wonderful and I don't think we have many of people who care about others just like Ryan. And I wish I could get the chance to know him...God bless him and all the people who care for others.

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