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What It Means to Be Fully Human

To be present with our brothers and sisters in Africa, to understand their suffering, we need to risk being fully human with one another. What I could do was tell their stories.
— Jena Lee Nardella, “One Thousand Wells”


For the past nine months as an intern, Jena’s words are what I have seen to be the heartbeat of Blood:Water. Being human means a lot of things; it means joy, it means pain, it means conflict, it means hope, it means need. And to be human with one another means facing all of these head-on and recognizing that, even though I live in Nashville, Tenn., and another young woman lives halfway around the world in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there really isn’t too much of a difference between us. We both need food to eat, clean water to drink, and people to call family. We both have deep struggles and deep joys, and an even deeper need for dignity. And that is what it’s all about: realizing what it means to be fully human by acknowledging all that we have in common and walking together.



Watching what I have just described in action here at Blood:Water has been a blessing. The work to fundraise in the U.S. in turn supports our African partners in their work, like training community leaders in WASH so they can then educate and empower their family and friends. Blood:Water’s faithful supporters who run triathlons, make a Lemon:Aid stand in their neighborhood, or generously give just because they felt called to do so, are all vitally important to the life-changing work being done in Africa. It is a community effort, mirroring the Kenyan idea of harambee, defined as a unified effort in a time of need.



It has been an honor to spend the last nine months as Blood:Water’s marketing intern. Since high school, I have developed two passions: sustainable, dignifying work like that of Blood:Water and the art of design. The opportunity to marry these two passions, focusing on telling the real-life stories of communities in Africa, has been one of the greatest opportunities of my lifetime.

I’d say that my last days at Blood:Water have been filled with that same excitement that I had when I was offered this internship in July 2016. It’s been… the REALEST!


He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
— Micah 6:8 (NIV)

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