For more than 15 years, Stacey Travis was a television producer for networks like FOX, A&E, and AMC. Until, that is, she drastically switched careers in 2006, when doctors in Uganda and South Sudan told her about the water-related illnesses that plague these nations. Travis felt compelled to help and soon after founded Drop In The Bucket, a WASH-dedicated nonprofit. While Los Angeles remains her home base, Travis now spends half of each year in East Africa.
She admits to being “really naive” when she first headed from Hollywood to East Africa to help implement sanitation systems. “We just thought, ‘This sounds easy enough. We’ll go over there, and we’ll drill the wells, and then they won’t be sick,’” Travis says. Now she knows better, and Drop In The Bucket promotes community-led sanitation models. For instance, when contaminated rainwater washes into crops, community members decide they want to address this problem and come forward. Then, Drop In the Bucket helps develop solutions that these willing communities can maintain themselves using local materials, rather than relying on outside organizations for future repairs and financial support. “We don’t go in and pretend that we can solve all their problems,” Travis says. “We go in and find out what they think their problems are, and we work with them to solve them.”
Each solution is targeted; differences among communities in terms of resources and education may mean that eco-sanitation flush toilets are ideal for one village, but too advanced for another. This is why, in her role as director of Drop In The Bucket, Travis spends a lot of time working in schools. She is especially passionate about empowering girls to stay in school. “It’s the girls that are going to grow up to be the mothers and run the households,” Travis says. And, she adds, by educating these future mothers about the health implications of clean water and sanitation, “It’s going to make everybody’s work a lot easier.
is an editorial intern for Circle of Blue. She studies journalism as an undergraduate at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.