Stinky – but for a good cause |

Stinky – but for a good cause

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Special to the Daily Jill Benbow with her daughter. The Frisco resident has vowed not to shower until she raises $1,000 for well-building efforts in Africa.

FRISCO – To raise awareness for rural Kenya’s water shortage, Frisco resident Jill Benbow is getting dirty. She vows not to shower for a week – or until she raises $1,000 for well-building efforts, starting midnight Friday.

“The biggest reason I decided to go through with it is because clean water is such a basic human need, and I’m horrified that so many people are suffering because of lack of access,” Benbow said.

Though the local mother of one hopes participation in Well Aware’s second annual Shower Strike will only last days, she’s preparing for the worst – a week without basic hygiene while wearing the same shirt.

“We have to wear the same shirt the whole time,” Benbow said. “You mark on it how many days you’ve gone. I’m sort of in panic more. It’s a little unnerving.”

“I’m scrubbing up big time in preparation,” she added.

The fundraiser – organized by the Austin, Texas-based nonprofit – starts Friday and will run through midnight June 25. Well Aware’s mission is to drill water wells in rural Kenya, and all money donated goes straight to the effort.

“A clean drink of water is a luxury where we need to drill a well, a shower is unheard of,” said Well Aware’s website. “It’s the least we can do to skip ours for a week, so that others can simply survive.”

According to Benbow, more than 40 people have signed up so far to participate in the shower strike, with only a handful living outside of Texas. Well Aware also hopes to at least double the $25,000 it raised in its first week-long effort during 2009.

“It’s actually genius,” Benbow said of the fundraising effort. “It’s such an oddball thing. It really gets a lot of attention. It’s the first time I’ve heard about going without hygiene for a cause. And it all goes back to water, and how we’re so fortunate to have plumbing and access to water.”

Well Aware’s water wells service tens of thousands of people for their lifetimes. The group also provides training and planning for a sustainable water supply and village farming through its work. After the nonprofit digs its wells, it works to provide training and aid in education, health and sanitation, community development, and job training and placement.

“Unsanitary water is the leading cause of death for children under 5 in rural Kenya, and 88 percent of all disease comes from unsafe water for adults,” Benbow said. “It’s a huge thing over there. In a few months, hopefully there will be a new well in a village over there. Wells can provide water for up to 30,000 people for 30 years.”

To donate to Benbow so she can take a shower, visit For more information about Well Aware or to join the strike, call (512) 322-0004 or e-mail

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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