Rachel Beckwith, an American girl,  had a birthday wish. She did not want Taylor Swift to drop by their house just to sing her a song. She did not want a dozen of Barbie dolls.

Rachel wished to celebrate her 9th birthday by raising $300 to put up a source of clean drinking water. She was aware some kids do not live to see their 5th birthday due to illnesses caused by polluted water.

Rachel’s advocacy was posted on mycharitywater.org. She learned about the new way of campaigning for humanitarian projects from Scott Harrison, the founder of the charity. Her message initially touched only a few people: 

“Every penny of the money raised will go directly to fund freshwater projects in developing nations. Even better, every dollar is "proved" when the projects are complete, and photos and GPS coordinates are posted using Google Earth. My goal is to raise $300 by my birthday, June 12, 2011. Please consider helping me.”

When her birthday came knocking at their door, Rachel was a bit disappointed. She only raised $220. She fell a little short to beat the aim.

On July 20 days after her birthday, Rachel met a terrible car accident in Seattle. She died three days after. People learned about her death and her advocacy. Her story became viral and touched thousands of people around the world.

Her good heart was not killed during the accident. People started donating to charity:water and now, her $300-worth wish is now a $1.2M-worth project. The amount can bring clean drinking water to about 60, 000 people in Ethiopian villages in Africa, according the charity:water.


Rachel’s parents travelled to Ethiopia to grant her birthday wish a year after. Samantha Paul, her mother, told the media:

"A lot of kids look forward to birthdays and Christmas. She realized she didn't need anything for her birthday, she had enough. It's amazing that a 9-year-old could grasp that concept."

Rachel broke the tradition of seeking for material gifts to call a birthday a genuine celebration. The sweet smiling girl is now in heaving watching the thousands of Ethiopian kids celebrating their birthday with clean and safe drinking water.