150+ Canadians Day 81: Ryan Hreljac

Ryan Hreljac contributes to peace as founder of Ryan’s Well which provides potable water to communities in need. #Canada150

Ryan’s Well Foundation was established to build wells and sanitation projects and educate children worldwide about sanitation and safe water. In 2009, there were an estimated 300 million people in Africa who did not have access to clean water. This number rose to 1 billion in 2014. The foundation has three ways to educate school children about water issues, the Youth in Action program, the Getting Involved program and the School Challenge program.

As a six year old schoolchild Ryan Hreljac learned of the obstacles people in Africa face in getting fresh, clean water. He learned that illness came from intestinal worms and bacteria, and that children often missed school because they were sick from dirty water, and that others died from diseases like water-born typhoid.

Hreljac began raising money for those affected by the global water crisis by doing household chores, which netted him $70 over a four month period. Within twelve months he had raised $2,000, which was the cost to build a well, according to WaterCan, a non-profit organization that provides clean water in poor countries. In January 1999, he sent the money to WaterCan, who drilled the first Ryan’s well in northern Uganda beside the Angolo Public School. It was built by The Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR). In two years, Ryan raised $61,000, and the Canadian International Development Agency heard of matched $2 for every dollar that he raised.

“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 sanitationYou’re never too young and never too old to make a difference.”


The Foundation has completed over 900 water projects including wells, protected springs and rain harvesting tanks providing water to more than 824,038 people in:

East Africa: Uganda and Kenya

West Africa: Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo

Americas: Haiti

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