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The donor: Marco Di Girolamo

The gift: Raising up to US$10-million

The cause: To build a water project in Mozambique.

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When Marco Di Girolamo founded a charity called the Terra Firma Project of Canada a few years ago, he started out by helping a couple of small food businesses in Kenya. Mr. Di Girolamo wanted to take the charity much further, and he’s now embarked on a US$60-million water project in Mozambique.

He got the idea last summer when he met Ryan Phillips-Page, who runs a New York-based charity called Operation Water. “I was searching for a project the last three years, trying to find something where I could move the needle,” said Mr. Di Girolamo, a senior vice-president at Brookfield Asset Management. “And water was always a great interest.”

Terra Firma and Operation Water are working together on the Mozambique project, which will bring potable water to around 700,000 people. They’ve brought in a team of water experts and partnered with several local companies, as well as the Mozambique government. Once in place, the water project is expected to last more than 20 years and be self-funding.

Mr. Di Girolamo hopes to raise most of the money from government agencies and export programs. But he still needs to raise around US$10-million in donations. “The whole genesis of this [charity] was when my son was born and I was watching CNN. I became really bitter about the news,” he recalled, adding that he has donated to the project and works as a volunteer. “One way I thought of not being bitter was getting out there and doing something.”

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