Sandy photographer sends 40,000 bottles of water to Navajo people in need
Mylo Fowler is a husband, father and professional photographer who grew up on the Navajo Indian Reservation near the Utah-Arizona border.
Ten weeks ago a disaster struck Fowler's native people. The wastewater from the giant mine spill in Colorado flowed into Utah's San Juan River, contaminating it.
"We still don't have running water," Fowler, 33, said. "If you go to my mom and dad's house… they still don't have it. Many families depend on, their entire water sources is dependent on, the San Juan River."
With crops lost, and fresh water scarce, Fowler felt prompted to act. Using his camera as a conduit, he set out to raise money to buy water.
Fowler's prints typically sell for $4,500, but he came up with a plan to sell select prints for $5, $10 and $25.
He received 150 donations in a matter of weeks, raising over $13,500, far exceeding his $5,000 goal. He then called Utah-based Maverik.
"They said don't even worry about it, we would love to donate 137 cases, and I was floored," Fowler said.
He also received a discount on water from Associated Foods.
"I said, 'How can we work this out?' and they said, 'Don't even worry about it, we'll send a semi down for you full of water. And in fact you have too much water for one semi — we'll send two semi truck loads,'" he said.
With 40,000 bottles of water now awaiting him in Southeast Utah, Fowler and Maverik videographer Braydon Ball set out to pick it up and deliver it.
After loading 137 cases, Fowler made his way to Gouldings in Monument Valley where the water was waiting for him.
Fowler first took water to the Navajo Nation Welcome Center, where it was graciously received.
But knowing many can't get to the Welcome Center due to rough road conditions, Fowler took water to them.
"When we met a lot of these families, in Navajo, they were just so grateful and so kind," Fowler said.
One woman in particular made a lasting impression on Fowler.
"She said, 'You're my younger brother and I was praying to the east that hopefully one of my kids or grandkids or a family member of mine would think of me and bring water because I need it, my dogs don't have any,'" Fowler recounted. "And by this time we had delivered, oh wow, 25,000 bottles of water, and she was one of the last families we were going to visit because our pallet was low. When she said that, I was so tired driving all night (but) it just refueled everything."
Mylo Fowler saw a need, and through his passion for photography, he found a way to give back. His actions have impacted hundreds of families in Utah.
"Hopefully what I am doing will be able to make others aware that the issue is still serious, and that it is still an important matter...and I won't stop, I won't," Fowler said.
The water Fowler delivered to those on the Navajo Indian Reservation will only last about two weeks. He is planning to make another delivery in the coming weeks.
For information on how to help, visit mylofowler.com/freshwater.