On Sept. 29, 2015, Houston-based rapper Bizzle wrote a $40,000 check. The recipient was CouldYou.org. The purpose: to build water towers in Mozambique, Africa.
This was in addition to the $5,000 he sent the organization in July to build catchers that would stockpile water during the rainy season.
The emcee said it’s the single largest donation he’s ever made and that, at one point during its collection, he only had $60 in his family’s personal checking account.
“This was definitely giving out of our lack and not our abundance,” Bizzle said.
However, he was keeping a promise he made to fans who purchased his last album, appropriately titled Well Wishes. Before its release, Bizzle publicly pledged that 100 percent of its profits would be given toward this purpose.
The project did solid sales. The money flowed in and went to a separate checking account. Eventually it reached the $40,000 amount Bizzle was told was needed to start building.
But at the same time, his personal income had slowed down considerably.
“It felt like God was really putting me to the test,” Bizzle said. “Especially with me being Mr. God Over Money [the name of his record label and public brand].”
Bizzle said that despite his personal circumstances, he knew his Savior would not let him down.
“He doesn’t usually let the jar get this empty before he fills it back up, but I’ve never seen it hit the bottom. God is good,” Bizzle said.
The water towers from Bizzle’s donation will be built in Gumbane, a village near Mozambique’s capital with a reported 1,300 people who currently have no access to clean water or electricity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88 percent of deaths from diarrheal diseases.
Access to clean water also has an impact on education. According to the United Nations and UNICEF, one in five girls of primary-school age are not in school, compared to one in six boys. One factor accounting for this difference is the lack of sanitation facilities for girls reaching puberty. Girls are also more likely to be responsible for collecting water for their family, making it difficult for them to attend school during school hours.
“God willing, this will be a permanent solution. We’re not just providing water for a single day, but we’re giving them new plumbing that can literally save lives,” Bizzle said.
Once it is complete, in an estimated six to nine months, Bizzle said he plans to visit the site to celebrate.
Alongside his personal financial struggles, Bizzle said he faced other temptations as he began to plan the donation.
Halfway through the experience he was told the Gumbane water tower would be a more difficult installation than originally anticipated. Bizzle said he was given the option to pull out of the project and support a different effort — perhaps one that might offer a bigger “bang for the buck.” Nonetheless, he decided to stay committed to the people of Gumbane.
“We do that kind of thing too often here in the U.S. and overlook the areas of deepest need just because we think our dollars stretch further elsewhere. I didn’t want to do that,” Bizzle said.
The profits from Well Wishes actually yielded more than the amount needed to complete the project and provide water to the entire village. Bizzle said he has about $15,000 left over that he will use to fund a non-profit organization to continue his charity efforts.
This decision was made despite conventional music business advice that he should use the extra money to help push his new album, Surrender, which was released on Oct. 23.
Recalling such sacrifice, Bizzle said, “I almost cried when I walked out of the bank.”
“In the seven years since I’ve been a Christian I went from living out of my car and needing help, to now being in the position to help others. Shoot, I’ve never even held a job where I made that much in a year!”
Bizzle said he hopes that by making this donation public it will inspire others who have more than him to share their wealth.
“Maybe the next person will try to out-give me,” Bizzle half joked. “And I’d have absolutely no problem with that.”
Press release by Sketch the Journalist