Finding Water A review of Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World by Doc Hendley

wine to water“What the hell is a guy like me doing in the Sudanese desert, getting shot at in the middle of the largest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime?” asks Doc Hendley in Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World (Avery). Before founding the nonprofit Wine to Water, Hendley’s life consisted of cross-country motorcycle trips, playing guitar and bartending in North Carolina. Then a dream woke him one night and left three words “spinning around” his brain: “wine to water.” Not sure what the dream was trying to tell him, Hendley started doing some web research and came across “dizzying” statistics on the world’s water crisis. Things like: “Unclean water kills a child every 20 seconds” and “One in every six people on our planet has no access to clean water.” He realized that “there’s no sense in getting worked up about it unless I do something to really fight it.”

Before long, Hendley had landed in Darfur, Sudan, in the Sahara desert, one of the most dangerous areas of the world. He worked to build wells for those in need in the midst of a gruesome conflict that nearly took his life. He recalls his 2004-2005 contract in Darfur with the aid group Samaritan’s Purse, and how the expedition grew into a personal journey as much as a humanitarian one. Through life-altering experiences that ranged from the demoralizing day he “learned how to dig a grave” to his joy upon seeing “the faces of those women and children, with their first jugs of fresh water in God knows how long,” Hendley learns firsthand what is involved in bringing clean water to people across the globe.