Daniel Rodriguez was 17 years old when he first witnessed extreme poverty. He was in the Dominican Republic on a service trip with a local community group. He left after 10 days, but the images he saw stuck with forever.
“From the moment I saw a community without water get water for the first time I knew that it was going to be a part of my life,” said Rodriguez.
It was then that Rodriguez says he realized that he had to get involved with the global water crisis. After his self described “life-changing experience”, he began planning the creation of a local organization that would help provide clean water and sanitation for impoverished communities across the globe. With the support of his sister Nicole, the Rodriguez’s founded BLUE Missions in 2010 and immediately began organizing mission trips to the Caribbean to help build clean water and sanitation facilities overseas.
Since its start just a few years ago, BLUE Missions has experienced a surge in volunteer interest. BLUE Missions has developed valuable partnerships with major corporations such as Whole Foods, Tamiami Park and Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer. Interestingly, BLUE Missions’ staff is made up entirely of people aged 18-22. Rodriguez, 22, President and Co-Founder of BLUE Missions, believes the fact that young college students are choosing to spend their free time to help the global water crisis is something that should be noted.
“These volunteers are spending their own money and free time to help people in need, ” said Rodriguez.
According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF Program for Water Supply and Sanitation, 37 percent, or 2.5 billion people—of the world’s developing population lack proper sanitation facilities and clean water sources. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation results in approximately 20 percent of deaths amongst young children worldwide. BLUE Missions’ goal is to help improve these statistics by sending out volunteers to these countries—and giving them to tools to educate the affected population and to create safe water facilities for the individuals of these communities to use. Volunteers have traveled to the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. This year, BLUE Missions has organized six mission trips for volunteers. Rodriguez says these mission trips have major impacts on volunteers.
“Our volunteers come back and they want to do more. Whether it’s with water, whether it’s with education, whether it’s with building houses. We encourage people to become global citizens,” Rodriguez said.
This foundation has found its way to Florida international University through BLUE at FIU. The student organization is an extension of BLUE missions and headed by President Vanessa Salguiero, who also serves as the Trip Coordinator.
“Starting at FIU was a no brainer, especially since a lot of our BLUE Missions members are alumni from FIU,” said Salguiero.
BLUE tables in GC twice a week, allowing students and others to become aware of the global water crisis and get involved by participating in fundraisers, events and mission trips to developing countries.
“I am about to graduate, but we have freshmen and sophomore members who are passionate about our cause and will continue on with BLUE at FIU,” said Salguiero.
As Trip Coordinator, Salguiero is currently working on the group’s trip to the Dominican Republic. Some of the volunteers will be spending their entire summer in the country providing communities with fresh water by building aqueducts.
BLUE Missions is bringing awareness to our local community through Every Drop Counts: Miami’s Biggest Water Balloon Fight on April 13.
The event will consist of the water balloon fight, live music, bounce houses and food provided by local vendors and sponsors of EDC. It will also consist of a non-profit fair where organizations can promote their causes and recruit volunteers.
Other FIU organizations will be a part of the fair. When they register their group, they receive a promo code and when individuals join under their group, the organizations gets $5 back to go toward their philantrophy.
“We’re getting a lot of the FIU community involved. This event isn’t just to help BLUE, but to let the community know what other people are doing out there too,” said Salgueiro.
BLUE Missions has teamed up with Tamiami Park, as well as Tamiami Park to conserve water leading up to the event. BLUE at FIU calculated how much water they will be using during the water balloon fight and it’s about eight days worth of using the sprinkler system.
The park will be cutting off their sprinkler system for those eight days prior to Every Drop Counts and the participants will be watering the grass through the water balloon fight itself.
The balloons being utilized are 100 percent biodegradable. They will be picked up and taken to be composted, so that they can improve soils in the community.
“FIU is definitely going green for this event.”
To learn more about BLUE Missions and Every Drop Counts, which is occurring THIS Saturday click here: http://www.bluemissions.org
(This story was co-written by Angela Bonilla and Katrina Lowe, SJMC student, Prospective Spring ’13 grad.)
Look out for a follow-up on EDCMIAMI2013