By Joanne Lu
What do Big Macs, orphanages and clean water have in common? More than you’d think, it turns out.
In 2003, Eric Stowe was working in orphanages in China and around the world, when he decided to ask the caregivers and administrators, “What can I do for a child living in an institution that would have both an immediate and long-term health impact?” He got a lot of answers, but the two most consistent ones were better training for caregivers and clean water. In institutions where three children are sharing a crib and 150 kids are living together, a case of diarrhea spreads like wildfire without clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Stowe had no idea how to train caregivers, but providing clean water seemed “totally approachable and achievable.” After all, it made no sense to him that just down the road from these orphanages, the hotel where he was staying had clean water, as did McDonald’s, Starbucks and Burger King.