With the Flow: CAP Cadet Creates Nonprofit to Provide Clean Water
Civil Air Patrol Cadet Capt. Haseeb Khan is working to provide clean drinking water to underprivileged communities overseas through his nonprofit organization, AquaEffort.
“When we have clean water here in America, we don’t really pay much attention to the value of it,” said Khan, a member of the National Capital Wing’s Challenger 1 Cadet Squadron. “So I was thinking, ‘Maybe it’s important that if we could get as many people as we could, [we could] start awareness on what water means to many people.’”
Initially an idea for a school project, Khan said he wanted AquaEffort to be something bigger.
“Our main project prompt was to present something that we were passionate about,” he said. “The thing that I’m really passionate about is community service. That was another reason why I joined CAP.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 780 million people worldwide have no access to clean drinking water.
With the support of his parents, teachers and peers, Khan was able to start his organization to lower that number.
His father gave him $1,000 to start his organization. Without that money, AquaEffort wouldn’t be the official, IRS-recognized organization it is today, Khan said.
“Without that $1,000, I wouldn’t have been able to figure out what my mission was as a company, what my goals were and what my expenses were going to be,” he said.
Since its inception in 2016, AquaEffort has completed two projects in South Asia and Puerto Rico and hopes to expand elsewhere around the world.
Khan said he owes most of his success to his participation in Civil Air Patrol. He joined in February 2016 after learning about CAP from a classmate his freshman year of high school.
He was interested in the activities and opportunities CAP had to offer. His passion for CAP grew, and his involvement helped him grow as a person.
“[CAP has] given me an opportunity to test my ability,” he said. “Without CAP, I wouldn’t have been able to realize how good of a leader I thought I was. It gives me the opportunity to see my own potential. It gave me the opportunity to professionally develop myself.”
The leadership and hard work he exhibited as cadet commander for his squadron and as a cadet public affairs for his wing didn’t go unnoticed. Khan was recognized with the 2017 Junior Cadet of the Year award and a national CAP public affairs award.
Lt. Col. Paul Cianciolo is the national marketing and social media manager for CAP’s Marketing and Strategic Communications team as well as National Capital Wing vice commander. As a wing cadet public affairs officer, Khan contributes ideas to better CAP and its cadet programs, Cianciolo said.
“He recently came up with an idea to do a video for youth orientation flights,” he said. “He also came up with the idea to take our annual year-in-review video and base it off of the cadet oath.”
Capt. Bebe Finkenstaedt was the Challenger 1 squadron commander when Khan joined CAP. Her son is one of Khan’s classmates and CAP peers. From the beginning, she said, she believed Khan had fantastic leadership skills.
“Haseeb has been a go-getter from the start,” she said. “I am amazed by his initiative and follow-through. He gets things done and has brought great value to our squadron and wing.”
Finkenstaedt recalled that Khan shared his school project proposal for AquaEffort with her. His proposal included such ideas as a mission statement and plans for donations and how the organization would spend its money to provide materials for those in need.
“He gave me a professional-looking printout of his proposal, and a bottle of water he had made a custom label for,” she said. “He was so excited about putting his plan in motion.”
Three years after the creation of AquaEffort, Khan has additional goals for the company. Right now, his goal is to provide at least one well every two years. After six years he hopes to increase that to at least one well annually.
“The overall goal is to rebuild water supplies, as many as we can,” he said. “The most important one [goal] is water hygiene education.”
While his goal is to provide a water source to as many people as he can, Khan also believes it’s important to educate people on how to preserve water. “Us teaching these people, giving them the free education on how to keep their water clean, how to preserve it, can help them for life,” Khan said. “I think that’s one thing my company does that’s different from others. That’s my main thing that I’m glad I’m doing — the water education.”
AquaEffort has 24 volunteers who participate in such activities as fundraising, social media, promotion and awareness. The company is working to expand its social media presence and to motivate others to contribute.
One project costs about $5,000 to complete, which includes the costs of employee travel. About half that total is the cost to place a well in any given country.
Those interested in donating can visit the AquaEffort website and use the PayPal button there. Donations are tax-deductible through the tax ID number located on the website.
With AquaEffort’s success in mind, Khan wants to encourage his fellow CAP members to try to achieve any goal they desire.
“If you dedicate yourself to a goal and keep yourself disciplined toward that goal, then you can do it,” he said. “That’s how I did it.”