Ryan was born in Canada in May of ’91. He was only a 6 year-old boy attending first grade, when his teacher, Mrs. Cathy Pres, explained to the class the conditions in which children in Africa lived.
He was deeply touched when he knew that most of those African children so far as died of thirst simply because they had no wells to take water from, while he, on the other hand, only had to take a few steps to have access to a source of endless clean water…
Ryan asked the teacher how much it would cost to bring those children water. The teacher thought for a little and recalled an organization called WaterCan dedicated to the topic and told him that a small well should cost about $70.
When he got home he went straight to his mother Susan and told her that he needed $70 to buy a well for the African children. His mother told him that if he wanted that money, then he should earn it himself and began to give him some chores around the house with which Ryan earned a few dollars every week. One day, he finally gathered the necessary 70 dollars and asked his mother to accompany him to the headquarters of WaterCan to finally buy his well for Africa’s children. When addressed, the man in the secretary across him told him that the cost of drilling a well was actually closer to $2000 dollars. Without a solution, Susan told him that she could not give him $2,000 no matter how hard he or she worked, but Ryan did not surrendered. He promised the man in front of him that he would return… and he did.
Back home, all his brothers, neighbors, and friends were infected by his enthusiasm and endeavored to raise this money. Between works and errands throughout the neighborhood they managed to raise the $2000 dollars and Ryan returned triumphantly to WaterCan to ask for his well.
Finally, in January ’99, a well in a village in northern Uganda was drilled. Then and there the legend was born.
Ryan did not stopped raising funds and travelling halfway across the globe looking for support for his project.
After the Angola well had been drilled, Ryan, now in college, began to correspond with the children from the school next to where the well was made.
Through this Ryan met Akana; a boy who had escaped from the clutches of the dreadful children’s armies in Angola and who each day struggled to study. Ryan, felling captivated by his new friend, asked his parents if he could go and visit him. In 2000, with a great economic effort, his parents managed to pay a trip to Uganda and Ryan came to the village where his well had been drilled. When he arrived, hundreds of children from the surroundings had gathered and formed a corridor, chanting his name.
– “They know my name?” – Ryan asked his guide, quite intrigued.
– “Everyone in a 100 kilometer radius knows your name.” – he replied.
Currently Ryan Hreljac has his own Foundation and over 630 water and sanitation projects in 16 countries bringing clean water and sanitation services to over 700,880 people.