In 2010, the Smiths gave up their birthdays for charity: water and inspired thousands of fans to do the same. They promised to take the top fundraisers to Africa to see the work firsthand, and more than $679,000 was raised through 2,013 campaigns. Jada and Will's own birthday campaign raised an additional $109,000, and 100% of the money raised was used for clean water project costs in the field.
"Our trip to Ethiopia with charity: water was an incredibly eye-opening and authentic experience," said Will Smkth. "It was extraordinary to meet and spend time with the people of Tigray and to see first-hand how clean water changes everything for these communities."
The Smile Generation was one of the top fundraisers in the birthday campaign. Dr. John Nosti of San Marcos Dental Group and Orthodontics, and Smile Generation director of marketing Matt Hall, were on the trip.
"It makes you proud of the work Smile Generation-approved doctors and offices have done in the fundraising for such a worthwhile cause," Hall said. "I wish I could take them all with me to Ethiopia to see the wells. When you meet the people you're providing a better life for, it is very special."
The group witnessed the 31st dig of charity: water's brand new drilling rig, Yellow Thunder, in Meago village. Most of the people there were used to walking three hours round trip for water, but thanks to combined fundraising efforts, this village of more than 400 people will now have access to clean water.
"The best part of the trip was seeing the difference that clean water makes," said Dr. Nosti. "charity: water took us through six different villages so we could see water wells in different stages — there was need everywhere we looked. As a dentist, you can't help but ask yourself how you can give back. The trip was truly an amazing experience."
Ethiopia is nestled in the Horn of Africa and is the most populated landlocked country in the world. More than 50 million people there live without access to clean and safe drinking water. In Tigray alone, charity: water has funded more than 1,000 water projects with the expertise of their partner, A Glimmer of Hope, and their implementing partner, Relief Society of Tigray.
For more information on Smile Generation, visit http://www.smilegeneration.com.
For related news, go to Smile Generation to pitch in building playground in one day.