- AMAZING KID -
Welcome to another amazing kid who has achieved much - Ryan Hrelijac. Don't forget to watch the video at the end where he investigates the fruits of his labour years later.
In 1998, 6-year-old Ryan Hreljac was shocked to learn that children in Africa had to walk many kilometers every day just to fetch water. Ryan decided he needed to build a well for a village in Africa. By doing household chores and public speaking on clean water issues, Ryan’s first well was built in 1999 at the Angolo Primary School in a northern Ugandan village. Ryan’s determination led to Ryan’s Well Foundation, which has completed 667 projects in 16 countries, bringing access to clean water and sanitation to more than 714,000 people. Currently, Ryan is a 20-year-old college student at University of King’s College in Halifax.
Here is Ryan's story ...
“My story is really very simple. One day in January 1998, I was sitting in my Grade One classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Prest, explained that people were sick and some were even dying because they didn’t have clean water. She told us that some people walked for hours in Africa and sometimes it was just to get dirty water.
All I had to do was take 10 steps from my classroom to get to the drinking fountain and I had clean water. Before that day in school, I figured everyone lived like me. When I found out this wasn't the case, I decided I had to do something about it. So, I went home and begged my mom and dad to help. After a few days, they told me I could do extra chores to earn the $70 I thought would build a well. I thought that's all it would take to solve the world's water problem. I worked for four months to earn my first $70. Then I learned that it was actually going to cost $2,000 to build a well in a place like Uganda. I also learned that the problem was way bigger than I realized.
I started speaking to service clubs, school classes, to anyone who would listen to my story so that I could raise money for my first well at Angolo Primary School in Uganda. That’s how my little Grade One project became the Ryan’s Well Foundation.
I attended University of King’s College in Halifax on the east coast of Canada. I've just completed my studies in international development and political science but remain involved with the Foundation as a speaker and Board member. I speak around the world on water issues and on the importance of making a difference no matter who you are or how old you are.
My work would not happen without the support of my family and friends. My Ugandan pen pal, Jimmy Akana, who I met on my first trip to Uganda, is now a member of our family. Jimmy is an inspiration because he works hard and has a positive outlook. He always has a great big smile.
My advice to anyone is that in order to make a positive change in the world, you need to find something you are passionate about and then you need to take steps to act. For me, the issue is water and sanitation.
Water is essential to all life. I hope my story is a reminder that we can all make a difference - it applies to each and every one of us.”
- Lewis Perinbam Award - World University Service of Canada (2011)
- Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award (2010)
- Peter Cruddas Sociall Innovation Iniative - International Award - Duke of Edinburgh Program (2010)
- Investors Group Volunteer Youth Recognition Award (2009)
- Toyota Earth Day Scholarship (2009)
- OneXOne Difference Award (2008)
- Chou Ta-kuan Love for Life Award (2008)
- Hal Anthony Citizen of the Year - North Grenville Chamber of Commerce (2007)
- Ontario Catholic Secondary Student of the Year (2006)
- Top 20 Under 20 Award (2005)
- Planet Africa’s Nelson Mandela Humanitarian Award (2004)
- Paul Harris Fellow - Rotary (2004)
- World of Children Founders’ Award (2003)
- Order of Ontario (2003, youngest-ever recipient)
- Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes (2002)
- The Wolf Project Award (2001)
- Canadian Meritorious Service Decoration (2001, youngest-ever recipient)
- Canadian Peace Awards – Youth (2000)
- Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year (1998)
- Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers
- CIBC Young Miracle Maker Award
In addition, Ryan is also recognized with several distinctions:
- UNICEF, Global Youth Leader
- Global Citizen, United Nations Association of Canada
- Patron, Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots Program
- Official Ambassador, Global Kidz Program
- Honourary Member, Engineering Institute of Canada
- Honourary Diploma, St. Lawrence College
- In 2000, Otwal Sub-county in Uganda named July 27 as “Ryan’s Day” in honour of his first well.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) lists Ryan’s Well Foundation as a model for its Healthy Environments for Children Alliance (HECA) Project
Clancy's comment: There ya go. Amazing, eh? Another amazing kid who had a vision and got on with it. Looking at his achievements, it makes you wonder what an entire army could achieve on a global scale. But, as I always say, bigger ain't always better and, without passion, don't even start.
Love ya work, Ryan.
Think about this!