Fourteen-year-old Spencer Renne is the founder of Projectwaterforlife.org, a website and organization dedicated to funding the production of wells and pumps to provide clean water to villages in developing countries.
By Dahlia Ghabour
It all started when Randall Middle School assigned its students a project: find a problem in the world, come up with a solution and present it to the class. Fourteen-year-old Spencer Renne chose the water crisis in Africa, and the simple school project soon became a personal one as he researched it, first creating a video, then a Website for the cause.
Projectwaterforlife.org is simple, but effective. The video provides images of Africans filling containers with water so dirty it’s completely brown. Every day in Africa, 1,440 children die from water-related diseases—more die annually than from the four leading causes of death in America combined. Renne implored people to give up just a few dollars a day from coffee or other disposable things and donate that money instead to building pumps to deliver clean water to villagers.
Renne is in a unique position with his proposition. Unlike many other ambitious kids out there, he actually has the connections to make this work. His father, Jerry Renne, works for the Air Force as the director of Public Affairs for all of Africa and Europe. He is currently stationed in Germany, where Renne will join him next year. “My dad’s going to Ghana in April, so that’ll be my starting point,” Renne said. “I’m going to try to drive around, talk to people, find out which areas need pumps more and where to start. I’ve been talking to some contractors to build the wells there, too.”
Renne’s extensive research and preparations involved sending things out to the State of Florida and making a lot of calls to big companies like the IRS. He makes appointments with bankers, accompanied by his mother because he’s a minor. “Sometimes people aren’t as cooperative when they find out I’m 14,” said Renne, “but it doesn’t really discourage me. I try to get it done no matter how old I am.”
“Everything he does is a growing and learning experience,” said his mother, Laura. “He truly has a good heart. He wants to help people.”
If the plans for building wells don’t work out, Renne plans on making a large donation to water.org, which has a similar goal. For more information, visit projectwaterforlife.org or call 866-662-2218.