The Hole-y Bucket

by | Feb 5, 2021 | ShiftHappens

Earlier this week, our friends at Service Space retold Gopal Dada’s story of “The Hole-y Bucket” in their “Awakin Weekly” email. I was so moved by it and the significance I think it holds for our work at The Pollination Project that I felt compelled to share it with our community, too. 

Often, people ask us how we think about impact and outcomes for the projects that our seed grants support. It is undeniable that the direct action of the work itself matters; the number of people, animals, or ecosystems that a project touches is often mind-bogglingly disproportionate to the relatively small financial input of just $1,000. 

The real magic though is not so easily quantifiable. I’ve seen it so many times now; as someone becomes a changemaker, the joy of service ripples in the world and within their own heart, just as the journey of Dada’s student leaves a trail of blossoms wherever he went. When we give ourselves over to the joy of service, the world is made better and more beautiful just by our walk in it. 

“The Hole-y Bucket” by Gopal Dada

A student approaches the teacher with the question, “Could you help me with a question I’ve been struggling with — what is the purpose of my life?” 

The wise teacher responds, “We’ll get to that in time. Until then, why don’t you first fill this drum with water from the river down below this valley.”

He then hands him a dirty, greasy, mud wrapped bucket with lots of little holes in them to use as a medium of transfer.

The diligent student does as he’s told. He walks all the way down the valley, fills up this “hole-y” bucket, walks all the way up to the drum that lays it beside their shack. Deeply immersed in the act of doing the task, he doesn’t notice how much water leaks through the holes.

Days pass. Months pass. And the drum is yet to be filled.

Frustrated and tired, the student approaches the teacher: “I’ve been filling this bucket for the past so many months, and the drum is nowhere closer to filling up. I don’t know how I will ever find an answer to my question!”

With a kind heart, the teacher takes the student’s hand and walks him down to the valley. The same path that the student took every day to fulfill his impossible task.  Pointing to the beauty on the path, the teacher then explains, “A few months ago, this was barren land. Now, see, it is a blooming garden. Every day that you carried water in your leaky bucket, you didn’t realize it but you watered this land. Now you can see the spring of little bulbs of grass and flowers.”

Then he holds up the bucket and adds, “When I first gave you this bucket, it was greasy, mud-covered, dirty inside and outside. Each time that you carried the water in it, a little of the dirt and grease got washed off.”

Without any further explanation, the student understood. The answer to his original question sprung forth from within his heart, “I’m like that bucket, with a purpose of filling the drum. I may not be able to see how I’m being cleansed, or all the saplings I’ve accidentally watered, but someday, a kind hand will help me see the blooming garden. I’ll understand that every leak has its own divine purpose. Then, I’ll just act without regard for outcomes or purpose. I’ll simply serve with joy.”

For more inspirations like this, sign-up to receive Awakin Weekly emails here.


It's Volunteer Month! 🌟 🌟 🌟 Today we celebrate our grant advisors working on Economic Development focus area.

By meticulously selecting projects for our seed grants, they're not just funding ideas—they're empowering communities and sparking transformative change. 

Join us in celebrating their invaluable efforts and the positive impact they're creating together!

🔸 Eric Anorrey (Ghana)
🔸 Mariam Nakiryowa (Uganda)
🔸 Jean-Marie Zihalirwa (DRC)
🔸 Emily Logiron Asekon (Kenya)
🔸 Georgia Bernbaum (USA) 
🔸 Herve Tsoala Kuete (Cameroon)
🔸 Jackson Bizimungu (Rwanda)
🔸 Okumu Dickson (Uganda)
🔸 Samuel Litunya (Kenya)


#volunteermonth #volunteer #heartivism #economicdevelopment #change #empoweringcommunities
The Green Earth Initiative (#Cameroon) is a project dedicated to educating and empowering students about climate change, sustainable development, and environmental challenges, that has received a seed grant from The Pollination Project in 2023. With a focus on fostering environmental protection and conservation, the initiative establishes Eco-clubs and Environment Clubs in schools, providing students with the tools to learn, engage, and take action in their communities.

Since receiving the grant from TPP, the Green Earth Initiative has expanded its reach, now encompassing 9 additional schools across two regions/cities, surpassing its initial goal of 5. 
This expansion was made possible by the overwhelming interest from school authorities and the growing number of volunteers and team members.

Through the support of TPP and other partners, the project's environmental education programs, awareness campaigns, and initiatives have impacted over 8000 students in two cities of Cameroon. Additionally, the initiative has planted over 600 trees, launched 5 Environment/Eco Clubs, and distributed over 150 adapted waste bins produced from recycled plastics, contributing to proper waste management practices.

The seed grant from The Pollination Project has been instrumental in catalyzing the growth and success of the Green Earth Initiative, enabling it to make a tangible difference in the lives of students and communities, while fostering a culture of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

#environmentprotection #seedgrant #heartivism #environmentaleducation
It's Volunteer's Month!!! 🌟 Celebrating our family of Grant Advisors 🌟

With 80 grant advisors, all experts in their respective fields and many of them former grantees, The Pollination Project is powered by a wealth of knowledge and experience. Their service is not only precious but also essential, as they bring unique insights and understanding to the application process, ensuring that resources are allocated where they can have the greatest impact. 

🎉 Today we celebrate our incredible grant advisors in the HEALTH & WHOLENESS focus area! 

🔸 Ben Kilama (Uganda) 
🔸 Kosa Jimmy (Uganda) 
🔸 Marina Haque (USA) 
🔸 John Ebong (Nigeria) 
🔸 Nzayisenga Emmanuel (Canada)
🔸 Rodger Mwanza (Zambia) 
🔸 Emmanuel Dushimimana (Rwanda) 
🔸 Nelly Hellen Onditi (Kenya) 
🔸 Daniel Ayodele Femi (Nigeria) 
🔸 Christopher Nwafor (South Africa)

Our heartfelt gratitude to these dedicated individuals for their invaluable contributions 🙏

@jim.kosa.5 @manud05 @duemmanuel @nelly.hellen1 @daniel_ayodele_femi 

#health #wholeness #grantmaking #grantadvisor #volunteermonth #volunteers #grants #heartivism #volunteersweek #nigeria #southafrica #uganda #rwanda #zambia #canada