Nick Jordan is a former Irish school teacher who spent the last 20 years in real estate—and the last five years saving the world.
In 2008, Jordan of Laguna Beach founded Wells of Life, a nonprofit group committed to drilling 1,000 water wells for the people of Uganda.
"And some days I wish it were one zero less because we're about to finish drilling 100 wells," he joked.
It all started when Jordan received a phone call in 2005 from Ireland. A group called Fields of Life contacted him to raise money to build five schools in Uganda, and Jordan made a $1 million commitment.
- Wells of Life's annual fundraiser and auction is being held at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Mission Viejo Country Club, 26200 Country Club Drive.
"I had the means, I had contacts and honestly I thought it was the right thing to do," he said.
But after visiting the country to see the schools in 2008, Jordan was stricken by the lack of women attending the schools.
Instead of attending class, women in the Ugandan villages he visited were stuck fetching fresh water from as many as three miles away, then dragging the water back home."I had—an 'A ha' moment or a big realization—basically it was a life change," he said. "I said, 'OK, I don't want to raise any more funds for any more school if everyone doesn't have—as a minimum—clean water.'"
Now Jordan keeps photos from his 2008 trip "very close at hand." He said the faces of starving and poor people motivate him in his mission to give 100 percent of his charitable contributions back to the people who need it.
Uganda has about 35 million people, according to the CIA World Factbook. That's nearly the population size of California. But 40 percent—about 12 million people—lack clean water, Jordan said.
The actual drilling is done via two drilling rigs that can be hitched to SUVs, he said. They require a drilling team to operate, which includes a hydrologist.
"Our drilling crews are like green berets living in the country in tents," he said. "They leave their families go out.. and when they come into a village, they are heralded as the hero the people have waited for, sometimes for decades."
Jordan said Fields of Life, the nonprofit partner who owns the rigs, intends to acquire a third rig soon. He said his nonprofit averages about 20-30 wells per year, and it has just drilled its 94th total well.
"Water is a basic human right," he said. "We can join together in the world, and we can stand together to bring fresh water to them. We are not going to stop until we've brought clean water to 1 million people in Uganda."
Check Patch later this week for more photos from of Wells of Life helping the people of Uganda.