From the beginning Salva had help from his friends. The founding board members were a committed group of like-minded individuals who brought different strengths to the table. This group was honored with WFSS’s inaugural Founder’s Award at the Rooted in Rochester, Blooming in South Sudan brunch on November 13, 2016. The tradition of a committed board of strong leaders continues today. Following are excerpts from interviews for the 15th Anniversary blog, Celebrating 15 years.

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“People see the opportunity to give back the gift of pure water, a substance without which life can’t be sustained, and something we so easily take for granted, and they are called to help.”

Founding board member John Bevier

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“Salva and I traveled to Africa to get permission to drill wells in southern Sudan. Every night we would make plans for the following day. The next day we would throw out the plans after about two hours and just do what we could. We laughed a lot.”

Founding board member Jim Blake

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“The right people came to the board at the right time, bringing special talents. John Bevier was a wonderful idea person. John Turner worked the problems to death until he found solutions. Chris (Moore) had the leadership and drive. Glenn (Balch) has done so much and Don (Fairman) was the right person at the right time. Everyone had a piece of this huge puzzle.”

Founding board member Nancy Frank

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“When you meet Salva and hear his story, what he went through and that he thrived, you get a sense that he has a higher purpose in life.”

Founding board member Robin Hill

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“I don’t know when I have felt any prouder of Water for South Sudan than when I have gone to schools. To see the pride in these young people who have read A Long Walk to Water and embraced Salva’s dream amazes me.”

Former board member Jack McKelvey

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“Salva was 21 years old and he was struggling to put himself through school at Monroe Community College (in Rochester, NY). He wouldn’t accept money from us, but we could provide room and board so that he could concentrate on his schooling.”

Volunteer Louise Moore and founding board member Chris Moore

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“Salva had continually talked about going back to help his people and seeing his father (ill from drinking contaminated water) led to the lightbulb moment that water was how.”

Louise Moore