Project Background

All human life comes from the Rift valley of Ethiopia. That is where the oldest human remains have been found. Ethiopia is a beautiful country with tremendous needs for help. Part of us thinks “if you’re going to help save humanity, begin where humanity first started”.

The first RAW Giving project was in Southern Ethiopia and was a deep bore water well in an area where there had been drought for 2 years. The crops had all died, the animals had all died and the people were dying. The day we broke ground in our well it began raining and rained for 2 weeks straight until the well was completed. The locals believe the well is blessed, and maybe it is.

Our most impressive project is the rebuilding and modernization of Mother Teresa’s well in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. This is a well in an 800+ person hospital for the very sick and destituted. There is a lot more information on our well below, but in short this is a project that 10 years of government agencies and various NGO’s had promised to do but never actually did anything.

It came down to us. Out of all those billions of dollars spent on “aid”, the first people to ever actually step up and help were me and you. The friggin Rolling Paper people and our friends at Water is Life finally accomplished the task at hand. We put in an modern “super well” that is so deep and well installed with a special water storage system that it will fill all of the needs of the hospital for many years to come.

The best part is that this is pure clean water. This is the first time Mother Teresa’s hospital has had access to pure clean water since it’s inception. This project is estimated to save or greatly improve 10,000 lives over the next 10 years. There is so much more we’d like to say, but this page would become a novel.

We would like to give special thanks to our friend Wiz Khalifa. His support of RAW papers has helped make this project and all our projects possible.

If you wanted to save 100 lives for the long term, what would you do? This was the question posed by RAW founder Josh Kesselman to his friend, who said “Water, Josh. Clean water is the nicest thing you can do… it can create better lives for hundreds of people.”

Across the globe, more than six thousand children – mostly under the age of five – die from water-related illnesses every year. This is why RAW teamed up with Wine to Water to dig a deep bore well in Southern Ethiopia. We are servicing 500+ villagers with a 40 meter deep well that should be sustainable for hundreds of years to come.

  • ababa1_0015_d6-2
  • ababa1_0009_e3-2
  • ababa1_0018_d3-2
  • ababa1_0008_e5-2
  • ababa1_0017_d4-3
  • ababa1_0016_d5-2
  • ababa1_0000_annual-report-10
  • ababa1_0000_e32-2
  • ababa1_0011_d10-3
  • ababa1_0014_d7-3
  • ababa1_0013_d8-2
  • ababa1_0012_d9-3
  • ababa1_0010_d13-3
  • ababa1_0006_e17-2
  • ababa1_0005_e19-2
  • ababa1_0004_e21-2
  • ababa1_0003_e23-2
  • ababa1_0002_e24-2
  • ababa1_0001_e25-2
  • ababa1_0007_e14-3

Mother Theresa’s Ministries of Charity is a “hospital of last resort” that houses around 800 people who are suffering at the greatest level imaginable. We knew that getting them clean water was extremely important. When I first saw the well, it was not in good condition at all. A nun explained that they use it whenever the city water goes out (which happens monthly) and they have to pail-fetch the water because the pump’s been broken for so long she doesn’t ever remember it working! As I walked away thinking of how to fix the well, I saw kids playing around a big red water truck on blocks.

The ministry used the truck to supply water to outside communities in desperate need during droughts but the truck was in disrepair. So RAW pledged to get it into good shape – period. This has turned into our biggest project yet. First we repaired the well but learned that the water itself was contaminated – it was only surface water full of runoff and human waste from the surrounding city. So now we are digging a new very deep 150 meter well to access fresh clean water. Because it’s so deep we have to install electric pumps.

The electricity is sporadic so I created a system of pumping the water into a 7 day elevated storage tank with many simple nuances to keep things running smooth and sustainable. It’s costing us over $70,000 to do this project and worth every penny. This project alone will save many lives in the coming years.

  • IMG_0004-Copy
  • IMG_0008-Copy
  • IMG_0009-Copy
  • IMG_0010-Copy
  • IMG_0018-Copy
  • IMG_0019-Copy
  • IMG_0021-Copy
  • IMG_0022-Copy
  • IMG_0029-Copy
  • IMG_0024-Copy
  • IMG_0026-Copy
  • IMG_0028-Copy
  • IMG_0027-Copy
  • IMG_0031-Copy
  • IMG_0040-Copy
  • IMG_0041-Copy
  • IMG_0049-Copy
  • IMG_0054-Copy
  • IMG_0072-Copy
  • IMG_0077-Copy
  • IMG_0074-Copy
  • IMG_0087-Copy
  • IMG_0089-Copy
  • IMG_0142-Copy
  • IMG_0134-Copy
  • IMG_0126
  • IMG_0150-Copy
  • IMG_0149-Copy
  • IMG_0148-Copy
  • IMG_0174
  • IMG_0408-Copy
  • IMG_0403
  • IMG_0409-Copy
  • IMG_0412-Copy
  • IMG_0413-Copy
  • IMG_0418-Copy
  • IMG_0420-Copy
  • IMG_0421-Copy
  • IMG_2552
  • IMG_2565
  • IMG_2907-Copy
  • IMG_2747-Copy
  • IMG_2768
  • IMG_2765
  • IMG_2763-Copy
  • IMG_2772-Copy
  • IMG_2685-Copy
  • IMG_2923-Copy
  • IMG_0076-Copy
  • IMG_2908-Copy

People see me as some sort of person to look up to. They tell me I’m a modern day Bob Geldorf but I know that I’m far from that. I’m not a role model, I’m definitely not the person you want to model yourself after. Sure, we’ve done some amazing things together over the years.

My company grew from nothing to a worldwide movement. RAW Giving is doing some phenomenal projects and has helped make the world a better place. But, I still get stuck in materialism.

I’ve spent so much money on insane cars, houses and other trappings. All of that money could have been used to save more lives. I live with that every day. That’s why I say no, don’t model yourself after me. You can do a lot better than I have. Model yourself after you and your own ideals. I know that in your life, you’ll do whatever you can to make the world a better place.

I was the kid that got thrown out of high school for getting caught smoking in the Deans bathroom. Who would have thought that I’d get to where I’m at now…

Archives: Our first water well in Ethiopia

The goal was to save 100 lives. The Raw Team with founder Josh Kesselman connected with Wine to Water and worked together to achieve the goal. Across the globe, more than 6,000 children—mostly under the age of 5, die from water-related illnesses every year. Raw donated to Wine To Water and help create sustainable solutions to that problem, building wells, educating local populations on proper sanitation practices and raising awareness.

We’ve been very fortunate with the tremendous success of RAW. We know it’s important to give back and make the world a little bit better.

“Basically we’ve been very very very lucky and fortunate in the past few years. With this good fortune I know it’s important to try and pass that
luck onto others, especially others who truly need it. I then had a thought, what could I do to save 100 lives? I contacted my friend who is a professor at UBC and a philanthropist and posed the question: If you had $10,000 to spend and the goal was to save 100 lives for the long term, what would you do with that money. He said without pause “Water Josh, clean water is the nicest thing you can do for people and it can create long term better lives for hundreds of people”.

Then I set about trying to find an organization to work with. He put me in touch with Tufts University and they recommended a particular Water well project charity that worked in Africa. I worked with that charity and was about to send money when they contacted me and said they were sorry but they consider us a tobacco company and they “won’t accept money from a tobacco company.”

I was flabbergasted and frustrated. However rather than giving up I vented my frustration on Facebook. Our fans on RAW told us about an organization they knew of called Wine to Water, run by a very good person named Doc Hendley. I contacted Doc and explained to him my goal and what I had been through. He was very receptive and we formulated a plan to dig our own well in Southern Ethiopia. In the end, we are servicing 500 villagers with a 40 meter deep well that should be sustainable for hundreds of years. We will continue to visit and upkeep our well to ensure it is working properly and maintained. Doc and I believe we have achieved our goal. In the end, none of this would have been possible had it not been for the huge success of RAW and Elements.

– Josh, Founder of RAW Rolling Papers