THIRST: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World

by Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO of Charity: Water

Publ: Currency, 2018, 336 pg.

A Review by Stan Laskowski, co-Founder, Global Water Alliance

This book is inspirational! I recommend Scott Harrison’s story for anyone interested in helping others, and especially for those who aspire to help people around the world with finding clean water. Readers will enjoy Harrison’s journey from a successful NYC promoter living the high life, but feeling empty and superficial, to a mental re-awakening, finding God and finding a desire to serve others. Where his redemption becomes inspirational is when Scott founded and managed the very successful Charity:Water which has over the years delivered safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands in developing countries.

Harrison’s story begins with challenges that he confronted in his youth, including trying to find help for his mother who battled illnesses resulting from environmental exposures. His interest in promoting music lead him to NYC where he honed his skills in organizing and promoting, and along the way connected with some giants of the entertainment field. He found that he had a natural skill in organizing major events and parties—a nice skill to have! Yet he felt that he lived a shallow life. While reflecting on what he wanted to do with and in his life, he took an abrupt step and volunteered as a photographer on a Mercy ship ( ).  It was here that he learned about the value of serving others. It was also on this trip that he learned the value of clean water. Putting his organizing skills to work, he, with a small group of people, started Charity: Water. At this point in the book, the story gets especially interesting for those of us who labor in the global water field. Through Harrison’s hard work, dynamic personality, and risk-taking, he managed to raise unusually large amounts of funds [what are friends for if they won’t help with clean water for kids?]. People are drawn to his passion and leadership and volunteer or work for very low wages to advance the mission. They learn, and more importantly, overcome many of the challenges that face all such organizations— how to find sustainable sources of funding? How to ensure that the water projects themselves are sustainable? How to keep the organization energized? The book is full of approaches that worked for Harrison [and a few that he openly admits did not work]. Among my favorites are trying to be completely transparent, connecting ever dollar donated to a specific project, taking pictures/videos of each project.

I enjoyed reading this book. Made me feel in good company. I highly recommend Scott’s story as a “must read” for those who seek inspiration around those two deeply personal questions: “what shall/can I do with my life?” and “May I help you?” For Scott Harrison the answers involve water, pure and simple.