Daniel Bagley Elementary School in Seattle Wins 2015-16 IGC

Daniel Bagley Elementary School won first prize winner in the 2015-16 Iron Giraffe Challenge, which earned them a visit from WFSS Founder Salva Dut and Executive Director Lynn Malooly in June 2016.

Fourth and fifth grade students in teacher Liz Hoyer's class were inspired to raise funds for WFSS after reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. The two dozen students in the class came up with many creative ways to raise funds, from bake sales and making jewelry, to foregoing birthday presents and having family and friends donate to WFSS instead. The class raised over $6,000, with support from their entire school community. A $1,000 donation was required to be entered into the Iron Giraffe Challenge drawing. The remaining $5,000+ will allow them to sponsor a well in South Sudan in the 2016-17 drilling season. 

Salva and Lynn had a memorable trip, meeting many of the students, staff, parents and community members who helped fundraise for the school. Their day started with a walk to the school. As students saw Salva walking up, word slowly passed across the playground that Salva was arriving. Students started walking, then running to greet him. Many were clearly starstruck, including one young student named Simon, who ran up to hug Salva and handed him a hand-made card.

Once in the classroom, students sang an African song, accompanied by drumming. They then took turns reading from a book they had made, with letters from each student saying how reading A Long Walk to Water, and learning Salva's story had impacted them. Many said it had changed their life. After some socializing time students then presented a special puppet show based on A Long Walk to Water that they had performed as part of their fundraising activities. Salva thanked the students, telling them that they are truly making a difference in the world. 

Salva then gave a talk to all of the older students in the school which was also livestreamed to many other schools and individuals. The school day concluded with Salva speaking to the youngest students and answering their questions about drilling wells and life in Africa.

The school hosted an evening community potluck event which was open to all. Students sold lemonade and WFSS merchandise,performed the puppet show again, and staffed a water carrying station to help people understand what it means to have to carry water, like the girls and women do in South Sudan. Salva then spoke to the community, thanking them for their outstanding support, and warm welcome, and answered their questions.

Lynn also thanked the community for their support. She noted that the support from WFSS donors does not just go to Africa. but truly goes full circle, coming back to impact those who enable WFSS's work, as clearly evidenced by the students at Daniel Bagley.

As noted by a fourth grade student named Simon in his letter, "Salva is so inspiring for helping... If Salva didn't exist in my life, I would be less strong, grateful, and helpful. Salva is my idol. Salva is completely awesome."

Read more about the trip in this Seattle Times story: Seattle kids who raised $6,302 for wells in Africa get a visit from their Sudanese hero.