Citizens Names: Danielle Sturton & Micheal Ross
Charity: Opportunities for Life
Tagline: We are a non-profit organisation with a focus on bringing clean drinking water and sanitation facilities to people in developing countries
Who are Opportunities for Life?
OFL is a local Gold Coast charity founded by a young couple who are on a mission to make a difference. We fundraise our money in Australia and personally travel to Africa to complete life changing water & sanitation projects. 100% of all money fundraised or donated goes towards the projects, other costs such as overheads, admin, travel expenses are covered personally or from private sponsors. Everyone involved including us, do it out of the goodness of our hearts, not the money in our pockets (because there isn’t any!) J
We have so far completed 7 water & sanitation projects in Zimbabwe with a focus on community-led sustainable projects which benefit a group of people such as orphanages, schools, rural communities, disability groups & villages.
How long have you been operating?
The charity was founded in 2013. We had a temporary registration to allow us to fundraise for our first trip which was in 2014. We loved it so much we came back and applied to become a registered Australian Charity in 2015 & earlier this year we were approved to have DGR Status (Tax Deductible Donations).
Where did the idea start?
We had been travelling around Europe for 2.5 years, and were always looking for our next adventure- but we wanted to go somewhere away from the western world. We had always wanted to go to Africa, and a friend said if we go we should sponsor a child- and I think that’s what put the seed in our mind that we can do something to change someone’s life. After looking at hundreds of volunteer programs we couldn’t find one that we fell in love with so we decided let’s do something on our own. We finally decided water was something that we could do- we aren’t qualified doctors, nurses or teachers so that wasn’t an option. So we set ourselves a $5000 target, and the first time we went out to Clapham Common Park (UK- We lived in the UK for a year and this is where we came up with the idea) to fundraise we didn’t even know which country we were going to help, or have any details- but we knew the money would be used to provide clean drinking water! That day we raised 152GB Pounds that day- and that what the start of it… We reached our target- we actually raised $25,000 so could help so many more people than originally planned- it was amazing!
How do TOWNHALL Citizens or visitors get involved and are you open to collaboration? If so, what kind?
Citizens & Visitors can become an ambassador themselves- if they raise $10,000 they will have the opportunity to come to Africa and complete a water pump project and have it dedicated to them!
We also encourage sport teams, individuals to challenge themselves & set fundraising goals. Family, Friends & work colleagues are getting involved. You would be surprised how quickly it can add up, and it’s not a huge expense for the donor so it’s a win-win situation!
Giving is not all about money- people can give their time, talent, or skill to help us in so many other ways or to create fun / adventurous/ whacky fundraising campaigns of their own!
Do you have any success stories?
In 2014, 4000 people now have access to clean drinking water from our projects. One woman in particular ‘Juliet’- she had triplets when she was 18- and had to walk 5km to the closes medical center whilst in labor! Besides that, one of the triplets has a spinal disability, therefore she has limited movement & unable to attend school, or fetch water (Typically the task for young girls in the family). So Juliet, now with 5 children was carrying a 20L bucket of water multiple times a day, a 2km journey each way from a open water source. Juliet now has a water pump 100m from her family hut! Juliet lives in a village where there is multiple disabled children, so they will all benefit from this project.
Do you have a project on TOWNHALL or an important event or mission coming up?
In November this year we are going back to Zimbabwe, we have already secured projects at a Primary School & Orphanage plus we are still going through our process with other potential projects. The more people we can help this trip & provide sustainable water solutions the better! That’s the biggest mission of them all! J
In the pipeline, we are working on a couple of other exciting fundraising initiatives:
We are in the process of bringing our own OFL banded water to market and have been fortunate enough to secure our first festival to stock and sell our branded water behind the bar; very big shout out to the wonderful team at Swagger Music Festival!
Other businesses, local vendors and event organisers can get behind OFL by enquiring with us about stocking OFL branded water. We believe our wholesale prices are quite competitive, and unlike other bottled water on the market, we can guarantee 100% of all profits from every bottle of water sold by OFL will go towards life-changing water and sanitation programs for those in need.
Are you raising funds for anything specific?
Obviously water & sanitation projects. We aim to get clean drinking water to as many people as possible. That water can then be used for agriculture, kitchen gardens, small business’ & create a more productive community.Typically, it will cost around $10,000 for a brand new pump including the drilling to access the water deep under the earth’s surface. Although some projects will require pump rehabilitation only which can be around $1000-$2000. There is so many different options such as solar pumps, water filters, tank storage solutions, rain water catchments
Any interesting fact you can share?
663 Million people in the world live without clean water
Diseases from dirty water kill more people every day than all forms of violence, including war.
443 Million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.
The World Health Organisation states every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return between $3 & $34!
It takes 2400 Liters of water to produce the average hamburger, yet millions of people survive on less than 5 liters per day!
In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year walking for water.
What’s the overall vision for OFL?
At OFL we hope to transform as many lives as possible not only through the provision of clean water but also via the flow on effect clean water and sanitation has on these kids and communities lives. Girls that would otherwise miss school to collect water are able to be properly educated, mothers are able to tend to their children needs and provide their children and babies with safe, clean drinking water and as a result the risk of death and disease is also significantly mitigated.
Secondary to this, OFL want to reshape the way Aussies look at charitable organisations. We will lead by example: Ensuring 100% of public donations go directly towards clean water and sanitation field projects, 100% of the time!
We are passionate about OFL and about the lives we are transforming through the work that is being done. We plan to continue to make a difference, ONE DROP AT A TIME!