interview by Wendy Slaton
Houston Family Magazine had the opportunity to talk to Friendswood resident Brittany Harris, founder of Brittany’s Dream, a local organization who has contributed more than $150,000 to provide clean drinking water in Africa.
What inspired you to create “Brittany’s Dream?”
The idea came to me when I was nine years old. I had just attended a Children of the World concert where they showed a video of the people of Africa, and their challenge to find clean, safe drinking water. It was at that moment where I felt a calling from God to help in any way possible. It was September when our family came up with the idea to bake Thanksgiving desserts to raise money for water wells in Africa. At school, we were learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. We were given a project to draw what we had a dream for which I wrote: “I have a dream that kids in Africa will have clean water.” This is where the inspiration for Brittany’s Dream, and since that time, I continue to bake pies and cake balls every Thanksgiving break. This year will be the ninth year of “Brittany’s Dream,” and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support from my community.
All baked desserts are a donation, so customers pay whatever they wish. The money raised goes to the organization Water Wells for Africa, who scouts out remote places in Malawi, Africa where there is no clean water whatsoever. To give you an idea, the price of a well ranges between $7,000 – $8,000 depending on the location. A couple of years ago, we started a local “Walk for Water” event in our community to raise awareness for the lack of clean water globally. Participants walk around a local park with large water buckets resting on their head to mimic what it would be like to fetch water for your family. Last year, we baked over 350 pies, and more than 2,000 cake balls resulting in a total of $35,000.
We understand you recently returned from Africa where you dedicated more wells. What was the experience like? Can you share anything about the families/children who you’ve met through your travel to Africa?
I went to Malawi, Africa for my second time this summer. During my first visit, I was able to meet families, and see first-hand the impact of the clean water wells. The people in Malawi are some of the kindest, joyful and grateful people I’ve ever encountered. They don’t have much but will offer you whatever they do have. The children love visitors and want to be with you all the time. Many times, we would have to come up with songs or games to entertain the kids because they would come from near or far to watch our every move. I loved every single hand I got to hold, every single hug I got to embrace, and every single laugh I got to share with the kids. Each water well dedication was different and exciting because we got to meet new people at each one. We brought streamers to wrap around the well, party hats, sunglasses, and blowers for the people to celebrate, and candy or lemonade. It was amazing to witness their songs of joy and praise for the gift of clean water, and a second chance at life. Their dances were an expression of pure joy that continues to live in my mind. The families will work from morning until midnight without being asked and without complaining. Our translator, Stanley would drop everything to accommodate our every need. I couldn’t even begin to express the gratitude I have for each one of them and how they truly changed me. This trip changed my life. Our translators remained with us at all times, and some of them remain my best friends today. I cried so much when I left because I didn’t know when I would be able to come back. I went back to the US with an understanding of pure joy, gratitude, respect, loyalty, and love which are all things that are important to find in your lifetime.
What advice do you have for others (including younger kids) who have a desire to serve?
Anyone can change the world – at any age! The smallest effort could make the most significant change. I started Brittany’s Dream as a nine-year-old little girl with a touched heart and an idea to bake pies. Little did I know where it would take me in the long run. I raised maybe $2,600 the first year, and two years ago, I raised over $51,000. You can make a difference! You don’t have to have a lot of money or time to change the world – just a little effort could go a long way. You never know who will be touched by the things you’re doing while you’re helping others.
So, tell us a little about yourself…
I have lived most of my life in Friendswood where I am a junior at Friendswood High School. I participate in theater, choir, and I am the school mascot, Mighty the Mustang and the Vice President of the Class of 2020. I am part of our school musical every year which has genuinely been one of the best parts of my high school experience. It is hard to be a part of everything, but getting involved in something is always fun and a great way to meet new people. My advice to high schoolers is to get involved in whatever you can because once those four years fly by you’re either going to look back on the memories you made or regret the chances you didn’t take.
For more information visit www.brittanysdream.net.