19 May Living Your Soul Signature
To live your soul signature means having the courage and clarity to live a life that is uniquely yours and reflects your greatest potential. This series of posts focuses on people who inspire me in the way they live their life and have found their most authentic expression.
Ryan Hreljac is living his soul signature.
“In order to make a positive change in the world, you need to find something you are passionate about and then you need to take steps to act. I speak around the world on water issues and on the importance of making a difference no matter who you are or how old you are.” – Ryan Hreljac
When six-year-old Ryan Hreljac asked his parents for more chores to earn money, it was not to buy the latest video game or Matchbox car. It was to build a well in Africa.
He had learned in school that there were people who were sick because they had limited access to clean water. Ryan was shocked by this information, but he was also divinely inspired to act.
“I thought everyone just walked to the tap and got a drink of clean water,” Ryan said. “When I heard that some kids walk for five or six kilometers to get water for their families before they go to school, I wanted to do something to help.”
Ryan's first step was asking his parents to donate to the cause. They told him he could take on extra chores around the house to earn the $70 he thought would build a well in Africa. After working for four months to earn the money, he learned his $70 would only buy a hand pump. The cost to build an actual well was closer to $2000.
Disheartened but not discouraged, Ryan began speaking to service clubs, classrooms, and anyone who would listen his message. He finally raised enough money to build his first well at Angolo Primary School in Uganda, where Ryan’s class had started a correspondence program. In 1999, when Ryan was 7, he was able to meet his pen pal, Jimmy when he traveled to Uganda to see the well his fundraising brought into reality. Two years later the Ryan’s Well Foundation was born.
Since then, Ryan’s Well has helped fund over 822 water projects and 1,025 latrines, bringing safe water and improved sanitation to over 800,000 people. Now 22 years old and a university graduate in international development and political science, Ryan will embark on an emotional journey when he revisits that first well in Uganda this May. He'll reconnect with the people of the Angolo School community whose lives have been vastly improved with the gift of clean, accessible water.
While Ryan sparked an initiative that changed the lives of so many, he also changed the life of his pen pal, Jimmy. During an attempted overthrow of the Ugandan government in 2003, a rebel militia abducted young Jimmy. Fortunately he escaped, and due to the tireless efforts of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, Jimmy was able to relocate to Canada and become a member of the Hreljac family.
Who would believe a first grader’s authentic expression could have such a positive impact on thousands of lives? I am in awe of how Ryan Hreljac’s soul signature found expression at such a young age. His act of compassion inspires me and gives me hope that each of us, no matter how old or how young, can find our soul signature and in the act make the world a better place.