World Water Day Hero: Ruben Ottenwalder, Project Hearts

March 22nd, World Water Day, is when several thousands of organizations and people around the world celebrate water. It’s an opportunity to learn more about water-related issues, to be inspired, and to inspire others to take action that makes a difference.

Here at Surge, we are especially excited about this year’s theme of water and jobs. The theme focuses on how enough quantity and quality of water can change workers’ lives and livelihoods — and even transform societies and economies.

Through our global work, we have met many wonderful local leaders and workers who dedicate so much of their time towards addressing this global water crisis. They are the true heroes in this fight toward water and sanitation for all. So today, we’d like you to join us on a journey around the world — to meet these amazing people — who we are honored to partner with!

Meet Ruben Ottenwalder; Baitoa, Dominican Republic. Surge Partner Organization: Project Hearts

Ruben, left, with Surge’s executive director Shilpa Alva, right.

Q: When did you get started working with water and why?
A: I have been working with water since the beginning of our foundation (Project Hearts), four years ago. Lack of water is the number-one problem in our area. We used to do very little in terms of water, but since meeting Surge we have been growing in providing water solutions.

Q: Why is water important to you?
A: I am so passionate about water because water is the number-one need of our bodies. Jesus used the symbol of water to call Himself the living water. Water is used for Baptism, to drink, to wash, to water the garden, etc. Water is LIFE. Without water we can’t live.

 What is your favorite memory of working with Surge? Do you have any comments about Surge’s support of your work?
A: My favorite memory of working with Surge was meeting [Executive Director] Shilpa, who is such a humble person with such a big passion to bring water to the needy, and it is amazing to watch her play with kids. Through Surge, we have been able to provide many water filters and water tanks for harvesting rainwater.

Q: Tell us more about yourself: What are your hobbies? Your interests?
A: I was a monk in the Catholic church and spent 10 years of living in silence and meditation.

[Now], my main hobby is watching TV. I love to watch documentaries, especially those on spirituality. I also like to work on my farm, chat with people, and share testimony.

I have a beautiful wife, Ana Maria, and two adopted sons, Andres and Wilton. My wife and I also have two daughters, Rosalina and Noemi. Fun for me is being with my family, going to a movie, and eating pizza.

Support Surge’s work in the Dominican Republic with a donation in honor of World Water Day here. With Surge’s 100% Pledge, 100% of your donation goes directly to our field water, sanitation and education projects.

Compiled and written by Executive Director Shilpa Alva and Ashley Quinlan, Field Program Development Intern at Surge for Water.

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