The Real Super Mario Brothers: Plumbers Who Save Lives

The most famous plumber in the world is Mario — along with his brother Luigi, of course. Since being introduced to the world, the Super Mario Brothers have earned their creators millions in revenue and are universally loved for their heroics — despite being fictitious characters.

Real life heroes are, unfortunately, not always blessed with such fame — that is, until today. This is the story of two plumbers (not unlike the Mario brothers) who are making the world a better place.

Plumbers Without Borders

n 2010, an earthquake of biblical proportions hit Haiti, with its 52 aftershocks affecting an estimated 3 million people. More than 160,000 Haitians died and approximately 280,000 buildings were destroyed. In the midst of chaos and panic, two American plumbers from Seattle, America, formed Plumbers Without Borders. They became heavily involved in connecting the willingness of plumbers to volunteer their expertise, to projects concerned with reconstructing the infrastructure and collaborations with engineers, construction services and local health services.

Following their heroics in Haiti, did they pat themselves on the back and rejoice in their achievements? No — instead, they now work to connect volunteer plumbers and mechanical tradespersons around the world with organisations that are committed to increasing access to safe water and sanitation. Their end-goal is to improve global health, one community at a time.

Their vision is a world where everyone has access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and where disease is eradicated by the implementation of appropriate plumbing systems — it’s a noble goal.

In Kitui, Kenya, 12 year old Janet Mwikali walks more than six kilometers everyday to fetch water for her family. The hunt for water is a daunting and dangerous task, yet she selflessly puts her safety at risk to provide for her family.

Recently, Plumbers Without Borders received a request for volunteer help from NEDI, a local NGO that is building a water reservoir in Kenya. The Nyanyaa Earth Dam (with a depth of 15,000m³) will shorten the distance that women and children burdened with fetching water have to travel. The initiative will also eliminate water-borne diseases from contaminated water.

This is just one of many projects around the world that Plumbers Without Borders is committed to supporting and raising awareness about.

Carm Digregorio, PWB’s Program Services Coordinator, reminded me of the old adage: “Charity starts at home”, and said PWB’s first recommendation to all potential volunteers is to “get to know your own community and first see if you can offer help to someone in need who is closest to you, and align yourself with a local non-profit…so you can do the most good in the most efficient manner, and thereby strengthen your local community and inspire others by your service”.

Plumbers Without Borders exists to serve others in need by connecting willing expertise with projects that are improving lives and ultimately global health.

The Plumber With a Heart of Gold

You don’t have to look to the other side of the world to find a hero. They exist in our backyard.

On the 18th April 2018, the media published the headline: “Hero plumber comes to the rescue of the elderly and disabled with free boiler repairs”.

Meet James Anderson, a 50-year-old plumber and father of six from Liverpool, who fixes heating and hot water problems for the elderly and vulnerable free of charge. In addition to working 13 hour days in his business, looking after his six children and caring for his disabled wife, he still finds time to help those in need in his community. A true hero, he puts most of us to shame.

The Sun reported that, in little over a year, James has helped out close to a hundred vulnerable people by sacrificing his time and offering his expertise for free. This led him to establishing DEPHER — or Disabled and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Repair. On the DEPHER website, James explains: “I pay for all the fuel and insurance including all parts and materials out of my own pocket or from funding on Crowdfunder and donations”.

With 16.5 million elderly and disabled residents in the UK, we need more men like James Anderson.

The real heroes are those doing their jobs and helping those in need without the need for praise or recognition. They’re the people who are there when your boiler explodes, leaving your house flooded, or when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Qualified plumbers, electricians, car mechanics and other tradesmen are the real life Marios and Luigis in the world — and they’re much closer to you than you may think.