Project Background

We believe 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 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 favorite project is the rebuilding and modernization of the well at Saint Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MoC) Center in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. This is a well in an 800+ person hospital for the very sick and destitute. There is a lot more information on our well below, but in short this is a project that years of government agencies and various NGO’s had be asked to do but never accomplished it.

It came down to us. We and our friends at Water is Life Ethiopia finally accomplished the task at hand. We put in a modern “super well” that is so deep and was installed with a special water storage system that it will surely fill all of the clean water needs of the hospital for many years to come. 

The best part is that this is pure clean water. There is so much more we’d like to say, but this page would become a novel. 

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

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Across the globe, thousands of children – mostly under the age of five – die from water-related illnesses every year. This is why RAW teamed up with Wine to Water and Water is Life and now Senai to dig wells in Ethiopia. Mother Theresa’s Ministries of Charity in Addis 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 hand pump’s been broken for so long didn’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 we pledged to get it into good shape – period. The well turned into our biggest project we had yet accomplished. First we set to repair the shallow well but learned that the water itself was contaminated – it had surface water full of runoff and human waste/debris from the surrounding city. So the project became to dig a new very deep 150 meter well to access fresh clean water. Because it’s so deep we had to install electric pumps. 

The electricity is sporadic so we helped create a system of pumping the water into large elevated storage tanks with many simple nuances to keep things running smooth and sustainable. It cost us a lot to do this project and worth every penny. This project alone has likely save and will continue to save many lives in the coming years. 

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I was the kid that got thrown out of a 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 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 was 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 people. 

Then I set about trying to find an organization to work with. I was in touch with Tufts University and they recommended a particular Water well project charity that worked in Africa. I tried to work with that charity when they contacted me and said they were sorry but they consider us a smoking company and they won’t accept money from a smoking 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 an amazing 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, that well services the villagers with a 40 meter deep well that should be sustainable for many years. Doc and I believe we have achieved our first goal. 

– Josh, Founder of RAW Rolling Papers