arah Evans of Well Aware Bringing the gift of clean water to Kenya one well at a time.
By Shelley Seale Photos by Cody Hamilton
ATER. It’s one of the most basic elements of life, so much
so that most of us don’t think much about it on a daily basis. We turn on our taps at home and clean, safe water comes pouring out on command. We carry bottles of drinking water, wash our clothes and shampoo our hair and rarely stop to think what an essential gift of life it is and what a miracle it is that it comes to us so readily.
Sarah Evans was once one of those people, never thinking twice about where water was coming from, getting scolded by her father as a kid for filling the bathtub up to the maximum. But in recent years, that has all changed. Today, Evans knows firsthand the value of water—and just how deeply the absence of it affects lives. Born in Australia, Evans moved at the age of 5 to the small, rural town of Crockett in East Texas. “I had a hard time fitting in at first,” she recalls. Eventually, her “foreignness” faded and she began making friends. After high school, Evans came to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where she changed her major several times but eventually graduated with a degree in communications in speech in 1998. From there, it was on to law school at Southern Methodist University on a scholarship. There, she was first introduced to global water issues while clerking for the Environmental Protection Agency. After graduation, Evans got a job providing in-house legal services for a finance company in Dallas. “I was learning a lot about the field, but it was an intense job. I was working all the time. It was just a world that I didn’t feel I belonged in,” she says. She came back to Austin and joined a law firm, but was still disenchanted with the field in general. Evans moved to her father’s general contractor company instead, providing legal work, as well as bringing his business in to the digital age. In short, she was a young woman still trying to figure out where she fit in this world. The answer came in the form of a friend who was trying to raise money to help her father in Kenya because his domestic animals were dying. “I started asking more questions about the problem, and I realized that what they really needed was clean water,” Evans says. The underlying issue was the fact that the livestock were dying from drinking