Doc Hendley Turns 'Wine To Water'

Meet the man providing clean water to orphanages, leper colonies and marginalized people across the globe.
Doc Hendley has dedicated his life to bringing clean water to marginalized populations. (Photo: Tasha Sullivan)
Sep 3, 2011
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

Wine to water. This is the phrase that changed Doc Hendley's life.

Eight years ago, Doc was tending bar and playing in a band in North Carolina. At that time, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. One night, he was at home jotting down lyrics and couldn't get the words "wine to water" out of his head. "I picked up a pad and wrote it down with a big question mark," he says.

The phrase turned into much more than a line in a song. Doc spent that night "glued to the computer screen" learning about the world's water crisis. "I found out that water kills more children in our world than absolutely anything else," he tells TakePart.

The numbers are staggering: nearly 1 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water, and right now the Horn of Africa is suffering from a massive drought that is threatening the lives of millions.

After learning the facts about clean water and water scarcity, Doc thought, "If nobody else is going to do something about this, I will."

Doc drilling a well in Africa. (Photo: Wine To Water)

Doc got the bar crowd in his hometown involved and began to turn wine into donations for water projects all over the world. He held his first wine-tasting fundraiser in February 2004, and six months later, he was on a plane to Darfur.

At that time, Darfur was in the middle of a genocide, temperatures wavered around 120 degrees and many people were not receiving water or adequate aid.

Doc was sent there by an organization on the ground, and while attending the United Nations security meetings, he learned about no-go zones—areas too unstable for the U.N to go to and provide aid.

"I decided to do all my work in those areas," Doc says. "I wasn’t directly affiliated with the U.N., so I could work in these insecure areas and help the people who needed it most."

For a year Doc rehabilitated wells in Darfur and taught village leaders how to maintain their wells. Now Wine To Water is helping people access safe drinking water in 11 different countries. 

Wine To Water has benefited over 50,000 people. (Photo: Wine To Water)

Doc says his organization does "all different types of water work, from water filters to rain water containment to drilling new wells," and fixing old ones. They also train the local community on how to maintain their wells so they're as sustainable as possible.

Wine To Water, Doc says, provides clean water systems to the "neediest and most marginalized crowds," including a leper colony outside of New Delhi, an orphanage in Peru and a men's prison in Ecuador.

"Most people think, 'Why would you want to help prisoners?'" Doc says. His answer is simple: "They’re human, and you have to help them."

This motto is what drives Doc. He says bringing water to people across the globe has been one of the more humbling experiences of his lifetime.

To help Doc and Wine To Water reach more people, host an event or make a donation.

Through the process of storytelling, a group of women in 'The Help' (from DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media) become empowered and, in turn, inspire and empower others. Drawing inspiration from the film, TakePart brings you “Real Stories, Real Change,” an original series featuring inspiring people across the country who are making a positive impact in their communities.

From DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, in association with Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi, comes the drama ‘The Help.' Participant Media is TakePart's parent company.
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