AC: By 1997, Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle were convinced many key innovations in global development weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Believing there had to be a better way to provide aid, they started an experiment. In February 2000, they invited any social entrepreneur to pitch his or her earth-changing idea at the World Bank. The 300+ participants ranged from a group of NASA scientists to a woman who’d never before left her Ugandan village.
As the rainy season brings our regular operations season to a close, we are pleased to report that WFSS went over goal and was able to drill 42 new wells! Thanks to the generosity of our donors around the world, 42 villages and schools are benefiting from life-saving healthy water.
Our other field team—the rehabilitation team—got an early start in the fall and also exceeded our initial goal, completing the repair and rehabilitation of 60 older wells originally drilled by WFSS.
Each field team is accompanied by a hygiene education team that helps villages improve hygiene practices. Access to clean water and hygiene education helps to reduce diarrheal and waterborne diseases, and helps villagers employ better hygiene practices personally, and in their homes.
Schools in particular benefit greatly from access to clean water and hygiene education.
Mary, a student at Aduktik Primary School in Gogrial State, noted that “Life was difficult [before the well] for pupils, who used to go far distances to fetch water. WFSS improved life in this school, and also provided hygiene promotion, which led to improvement of hygiene behavior.”
In addition, WFSS continued our collaboration with Omaha-based Aqua-Africa on our United Peace and Development Project (UPDP). This year, the organizations worked to drill four new wells, and provide hygiene and micro-democracy training. The UPDP is a joint effort led by members of two historically conflicted tribes—the Dinka and Nuer—coming together to provide access to clean water. The continued success of this collaboration inspires us all, and we look forward to developing future plans.
The WFSS team will launch a small “extended season” drilling project in June, with plans to drill at least eight wells in the Wau area, near the WFSS operations center.
Our Country Directors Lion and AJ will visit the US this summer to review the past season, meet with staff and board members in Rochester, NY, and plan for 2019-20 and beyond.
Thank you to all of our supporters who enable our work.
You truly are helping us to water the seeds of change in South Sudan.
Our donors contribute in ways large and small to enable our work. We are pleased to shine a spotlight on three Amazing Kids for their efforts to support
Water for South Sudan. We thank their families and communities for helping to impact lives in South Sudan.
Jorie W., age 14 from Connecticut
At age seven, Jorie was introduced to A Long Walk to Water by her school librarian, Judy Gafney. After reading the book with her mom and meeting author Linda Sue Park, Jorie knew that she wanted to do something to help the people in South Sudan.
For the past seven years Jorie—whose birthday party always falls on Super Bowl Sunday—has held a fundraiser to celebrate her special day. Instead of presents, she asks friends and family to donate to Water for South Sudan. According to the budding philanthropist, “It doesn’t matter if you’re not going to get gifts. It will make you feel good and be the best gift you can get. Holding the fundraiser makes me feel great inside.”
An outdoorsy fourteen-year-old, Jorie loves going camping with her mom and has been skiing since she was three. She also loves acting, basketball, and softball. Eventually, Jorie wants to become a lawyer and practice family law with a focus on child custody.
We thank Jorie for supporting WFSS for half of her life! We also thank her family and community for helping to impact lives in South Sudan. Way to go, Jorie!
Selah H., age 10 from Alberta, Canada
For each of the past three years, Selah has selected a charity to support. A homeschooled student, Selah listened to the A Long Walk to Water audiobook with her siblings and decided that Water for South Sudan would be her charity of choice for 2018.
As she did for her previous fundraisers, Selah planned to hold a bake sale. Her mom, Sara, recorded a video of Selah describing the book and Salva’s story and shared it on Facebook and Instagram. They invited family, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members to attend her bake sale. As for the reason she fundraises, Selah said, “I’m raising money because I want to help, and some people don’t have as much as I do.”
Selah went all out for her WFSS fundraiser, baking cookies and holding an open house during the holiday season. Over 30 people came to purchase her cookies and she ultimately raised over $1,200 to help the people of South Sudan. To other kids interested in fundraising, Selah has this advice: “Think of a place you really want to help, think of something you’re good at, and gather some friends to help you.”
When she’s not baking, Selah loves to read, crochet, and make crafts. Her dream is to work at NASA in Mission Control.
Many thanks to Selah and her family, friends, and community for making a difference in the lives of people in South Sudan!
Trevor S., age 12 from Maryland
After reading A Long Walk to Water, students in Trevor’s class learned about Water for South Sudan and started collecting money for their Water Walk. Nominated as an Amazing Kid by his teacher Mrs. Hammond, Trevor went above and beyond as a fundraiser due to his “enthusiasm, dedication, and knowledge of the plight of the South Sudanese.” He went online to learn about the Dinka culture, learned about WFSS, and started collecting money for the walk. Their goal was to raise enough funds to build a new well in South Sudan.
Trevor and his fellow classmates set up a walking track behind the school and painted pictures of wells and the Dinka people on water jugs, which students carried during the 1.5-hour walk. Trevor also reached out to the local American Legion for a donation and explained the purpose of WFSS. Impressed by Trevor’s dedication and knowledge of the water crisis in South Sudan, they made a $500 donation. Trevor also asked for donations from friends and family and saved his own money to donate. “I felt it was really important. We have so much in the U.S., and a lot to give away,” Trevor said. “It was such an accomplishment, and something to be proud of.”
Mrs. Hammond shared that Trevor “helped make adults in his community aware of a problem in the world and asked them to help create a permanent solution by contributing toward a well.” Trevor and the seventh- and eighth-grade students at his school raised enough money at the Water Walk to build a new well in South Sudan.
A well-rounded student, Trevor loves to skateboard, play soccer, and practice archery. He hopes to be a professional soccer player or an artist when he grows up. Huge thanks to Trevor, his family, and his community for watering the seeds of change in South Sudan!
Do you know an amazing kid?
Click the button below to complete the nomination form.
Cards, chocolates and flowers will be given to many women this Sunday for Mother’s Day. For a mother in a developing country however, the preparations are starkly different. Women are hoping to obtain clean water, sanitation and hygiene in order to keep themselves and their children safe, healthy and alive.
These things that people living in developed nations often take for granted, including clean water, would have a positive lasting impact on mothers in underdeveloped countries. The health of women and children, particularly pregnant women and young children, is often directly linked to the access of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Without clean water and sanitation, women and children are more prone to infections and diseases, and are forced to travel for hours a day to obtain these basic rights, making them more vulnerable to experiencing violence. When these young girls and mothers spend hours every day walking to water sources, there is no time for them to attend school, and without clean water, the hope of education is gone.
Read more about the need for complete WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) programs to ensure maternal health: No Maternal Health Without Clean Water by Katie Millar, MPH, RN, Technical Writer and Publication Coordinator, Maternal Health Task Force, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
On May 12th, consider donating in honor of or in memory of a mother in your life. Your donation will help bring clean water, sanitation, and hygiene to another mother and child in South Sudan. Following your donation, you will receive a downloadable card in order to show the mother in your life how much they mean to you!
Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene would be our wish to help every mother have a Happy Mother's Day.
To give the gift of clean water, please visit our donate page.
Following South Sudan’s independence, gained in 2011, the world’s newest country scheduled its first elections to take place in 2015.
Mid 2013, however, then President Salva Kiir dismissed his own vice president, Riek Machar, and the entire cabinet, for the purpose of decreasing the size of government. Machar said this was a step towards dictatorship for Kiir, and vowed to challenge Machar for the Presidency in the 2015 elections.
Following the dismissal of Machar, an associated coup d’état was shut down. A coup d’état, or the overthrow of an existing government, usually an unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator or political group, brought further instability to the region.
Fast forward to 2015, when elections were presumed to happen. In April of that year, the South Sudan parliament voted to amend the transitional constitution. This resulted in an extension of the Presidents and legislatures terms for two more years, meaning the same people were to say in power until 2018.
Additionally, a new vote in 2018 further pushed back South Sudan’s first elections until 2021.
So how does this keep happening?
When the country was formed in 2011, the South Sudanese government adopted the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, as a temporary placeholder for a permanent constitution. It allowed for the centralization of the government, meaning power was to be dispersed among the political system, in this case between the legislative and executive branches.
Because this is considered an interim constitution, the process for amending it is not a difficult process as compared to other constitutionalized countries. This allowed for parliament to extend Kiir’s term past the usual 5-year term, and in turn postpone elections.
On top of that, President Kiir says the decision to push back elections is to allow time for national reconciliation and peace. This process will take years and should not be rushed, according to Kiir. By pushing off elections, there would be time for peace to take shape in South Sudan.
Many people see this as a power grab from President Kiir. With his now extended term, there is question as to if this is truly the end of President Kiir’s position, or if he will only ask for an extension.
With the 2021 elections are on the horizon, there is also a need to replace the Transitional Constitution in order to make South Sudan a more stable state. With new members of government, the stall in progress previously will hopefully come to an end, in order for South Sudan to evolve.
Looking forward, it is necessary for South Sudan to keep working toward peace. The newly signed peace agreements will hopefully encourage amnesty within the country, and will be honored by its leaders. There is hope that this will encourage reconciliation and reprieve in South Sudan.
While we have been making our way through snow, cold and winter in many parts of the US, South Sudan is in the midst of their dry season, when the temperatures routinely are above 100 degrees, and WFSS’s busy operating season continues.
Our teams have been working hard – new wells have been drilled, older wells have been rehabilitated, and all the villages we have visited have received hygiene education training. We are happy to report on the progress of the 2018-19 season.
REHAB TEAM FINISHES 51 WELLS
The rehab team travels to our wells drilled in previous years to assess them, and do any repairs needed. They also rehabilitate the platforms and drainage channels around the wells to bring them to a higher design standard. The rehab team got an early start this year, heading into the field in October.
As of March 14, the rehab team had completed 51 rehabs, surpassing their goal of 50. The rehab team will soon head back to our compound in Wau to work with one of our new drilling rigs and transition to become a second drilling team for the remainder of the season.
SEVENTEEN NEW WELLS AND COUNTING
The drilling team started in January, and has been moving more slowly as they are working in a very remote area of Tonj North State. This presents several challenges, including more travel time needed to get to government-approved gravel distribution sites, and there is less access to water needed for drilling. As always, our team is managing the ever-present challenges in South Sudan. They developed an alternative plan to secure a submersible pump which will be used to fill the enormous bladders with the water needed to drill new wells. As of March 14, the team had completed 17 wells, and that number will grow more quickly when the rehab team begins drilling.
HYGIENE EDUCATION CONTINUES
The WFSS hygiene education teams deliver training that aims to improve hygiene behaviors. We have two teams which travel with our drilling and rehab teams. Through our “train the trainer” model we help villagers understand how to stay healthy, how to keep clean water clean, and how to improve general hygiene practices in the home. We made improvements to our hygiene curriculum this year, and will continue to review the hygiene program.
Our entire team in South Sudan is working to continuously improve all we do – from our field teams to our operations center. We are already working on goals for next year, with a strategic vision to expand our reach and impact.
As always, we could not do this without the tremendous support of our donors around the world. THANK YOU for your ongoing generosity which helps us water the seeds of change in South Sudan!
Our donors contribute in ways large and small to enable our work. We are happy to shine a spotlight this month on Emma B., a 13-year-old student from Florida, for her efforts to support Water for South Sudan (WFSS).
In 2017, Emma’s mom Kim found A Long Walk to Water at her local bookstore and decided to include it as part of Emma’s homeschooling curriculum. “From the moment she read the book she was inspired,” said Kim. As Emma prepared for entry into a geography fair, she was interested in learning more about South Sudan and access to water. She created a display board, flyers, pamphlets, and an authentic dish to share with fair attendees.
Soon after the fair, Emma would celebrate her birthday. In lieu of presents, she asked for money to support Water for South Sudan. Friends attending her party received favors centered around water: water bottles, H2O stickers, and pamphlets about WFSS. “It is difficult to fully describe all of the efforts Emma has put into educating her peers,” said Christina, a family friend. “My own son became aware of the work your organization does because of Emma’s determination to educate and fundraise.
Emma’s efforts didn’t end in 2017. She started her own Facebook page where she highlights her fundraising efforts, personal writing, and inspirational quotes. She continues to collect aluminum cans that she turns in for money to support WFSS. Emma’s advice to other kids interested in starting their own fundraiser, “Learn as much as you can about South Sudan, start a Facebook page and share the other book about Salva Just Add Water with younger readers. I tell people about WFSS and let them know I am collecting money to support the organization’s projects. I let them decide if they want to donate.”
Emma has several interests. She loves hiking, gardening, cooking, arts and crafts, Legos and visiting museums. She performed the opening number for the Radio City Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, both with Camp Broadway. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, “I’m not exactly sure because I love to do so many things.”
In addition to helping WFSS, Emma supports Shriners Children’s Hospital, Caps of Love, Matthew 25 Ministries and Students Rebuild. She volunteers for the Patel Conservatory, Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tents, UACDC, Shelburne Farms, and Golden Rainbow Ranch and Nature Center.
“With so much hardness in this world, it is a blessing to see my daughter along with others trying to make the world better for the future. She gives me hope for a better tomorrow,” said her mom Kim.
WFSS staff is happy to feature Emma as an Amazing Kid. We are proud to be a part of Emma’s many interests and look forward to working with her for many years to come. We thank Emma, her family and community for helping to impact lives in South Sudan.
Do you know an amazing kid?
Click the button below to complete the nomination form.
The Power of a Conversation:
In 1980, Harriet Prichard started a conversation with the youth group at her church to talk about a new idea for gift giving. The group organized a market selling relief and self-development goods to support people in developing countries. Purchasers received a card to inform recipients of the alternative gift and what the funds were supporting. This project quickly grew and in 1986 Alternative Gifts International (AGI) became a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency. “We want people to know and be inspired by the power of a conversation which was the humble beginning of AGI. You never know where a conversation will lead,” said AGI Executive Director Surinder Moore.
Each year, AGI selects 27 nonprofit partners and acts as an extension of support to these organizations. WFSS has been partnering with AGI since 2006 receiving over $340,000 from supporters around the world. “There are some causes that people instantly identify with,” said Moore of the partnership with WFSS. “Realizing there are many places worldwide that still don’t have access to clean water is something many people are alarmed by because it’s something we use every day.”
AGI inspires people to celebrate life’s milestones in alternative ways. Through the Gifts Inspiring Change catalog, pre-paid AGI gift cards, local gift markets and crowdfunding AGI is providing gift givers an opportunity to give gifts that make an impact, rather than material items. Churches, schools and organizations can host a local market utilizing the catalog to raise money for the pre-selected projects. The newest tool offered by AGI is the crowdfunding program which is available through their website.
WFSS is proud to work with the small staff at AGI and feature the organization as this month’s Super Supporter. We are so grateful for our partnership. You can learn more at www.alternativegifts.org.
“In the simple act of gifting, you are changing the world.” ~Surinder Moore
New peace deal in South Sudan greeted with optimism
Current South Sudan President Salva Kiir met with former rebel leader and Vice President Riek Machar to sign a peace agreement late last year. The rivalry between the two had previously fueled the civil war in South Sudan, making it surprising to see the two smiling and shaking hands in the capital city of Juba.
The new agreement, named the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, follows years of multiple peace agreements that have ultimately failed. The agreement is met with both skepticism and hopefulness. Alongside Kiir and Machar, former detainees and other political party leaders have agreed to sign the document. Together with lasting peace, the agreement aims to implement free and fair elections that are open to all parties, and pave the way for economic integration between the North and South parts of former Sudan.
This comprehensive peace agreement focuses on five areas that will hopefully form a lasting peace agreement. These include a permanent ceasefire, rehabilitation to the oil industry and oil wells, security reform, improvement of infrastructure and the livelihood of citizens, and implementation of outside forces to oversee the ceasefire. Both major political leaders claim to be committed to the cause and respect the documents and what follows.
The first expected hurdle will be the permanent ceasefire. The previous treaty, the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, was violated by both sides within 24 hours. In response, the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement hopes to forge one national army under one national representation. Previously, there had been two armies, making them more likely to clash. In order to have a successful ceasefire, both African Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states are asked to deploy the necessary forces to make sure this ceasefire is everlasting.
Following almost five years of war that displaced nearly a quarter million citizens and killed thousands, there is also hope that this deal will be the lasting peace South Sudan has been looking for. Machar said the agreement will end the suffering all too common in South Sudan, adding that “they will be happy soon.”
With the optimism that this agreement will bring the peace that South Sudan needs, Water for South Sudan will be able to reach out to previously unsafe communities. Furthermore, this pact aims at opening up the doors of Sudan to humanitarian aid in order to improve the lives of its citizens. Water for South Sudan will be able to get supplies needed and personnel to South Sudan in a more efficient manner, and ultimately reach out to more populations that need access to clean, safe water and hygiene education.
Students surpass the IGC goal and show their dedication all the way from Sweden with a student-led community event!
One of our favorite parts of the Iron Giraffe Challenge is that each year thousands of students from around the world take initiative to help others, making it a true global program.
This year, students at the International School of the Gothenburg Region in Sweden took part in the IGC for the first time under guidance of their teacher, Grace. The students planned a community event themselves and exceeded their fundraising goal! We were so inspired by their new support and success that we interviewed Grace to hear about her experiences and her students’ work. Read the full interview here!
WFSS: Why did you first decide to participate in the Iron Giraffe Challenge? How did you learn of it?
Grace: Our 6th Grade English class read “A Long Walk to Water” together and were very inspired by Salva’s story and his perseverance. We wanted to find some way to help and contribute to the organization, Water For South Sudan. We spent some time on the website and realized we could enter into the Iron Giraffe Challenge and thought this was a great goal for us- 1,000 USD. We decided to organize an evening fundraising event for the parents that featured student speeches (like “TED Talks”) on various concepts from Salva’s story such as war, hope, and leadership. The event also featured student-made artwork inspired by the book. The event was a huge success and we even surpassed our fundraising goal!
WFSS: What was your motivation and your students’ motivation for taking the IGC this year?
Grace: As an international school, we strongly value international-mindedness and global citizenship. My motivation was to help the students expand their worldview and try to understand another way of life that may not be as easy as their own. Here in Sweden we sometimes can’t comprehend how it would feel to be without clean water, it is so easily accessible for us. The students’ motivation was to make a difference in the lives of the people of Sudan while showing off the talent and hard work within our classes.
WFSS: How did your participation in the IGC enrich the learning experience for your students? What do you think they got out of it?
Grace: The students learned so much! We learned how important access to clean water is for our health and hygiene, and that it also allows villages further access to education and other important opportunities we take for granted here. We learned about their own privilege, we learned much more about Sudan and the war that happened there. We learned how to organize an event and how to speak on a stage in front of an audience. We learned that they can make a difference and actually save lives just by working together and organizing something. We learned a lot about the value of service and how we have the obligation to help others less fortunate than us.
WFSS: What has been the most inspiring part of fundraising with your students?
Grace: For me, I am so inspired by the initiative the students took to plan and organize the event. I wanted the project to be completely student-led in order to align with our school goals and values- of course at times I was nervous how the end result would be but they really impressed me with what they put together. I can see the motivation was there and it did not come from a teacher telling them exactly what to do, it came from their own hearts for service and desire to make a difference in the world.
WFSS: What would you say to a teacher considering participating in the IGC? Do you have any advice for them?
Grace: I would definitely recommend participating in the IGC. It is an incredibly valuable experience and it feels like Water for South Sudan is a very trustworthy organization. The contact I had with the representatives was very easy and they answered all my questions straightaway. I was impressed that we were able to organize a video call with Ashley during the event which made it a bit more “real” for us.
I recommend making it as student-led as possible- students become far more engaged with a project when they have some ownership and responsibility to create something. There are infinite fundraising possibilities so don’t structure a plan for them, and say “yes” as much as possible!
Thank you to Grace and everyone at the International School of the Gothenburg Region for their great support!
There’s just over a month left in the 2019 Iron Giraffe Challenge and you can have a rewarding experience, too.
Join our team!
WFSS has an immediate opening in our Rochester, NY office for a Donor Relations & Data Coordinator.
The Donor Relations & Data Coordinator will manage fundraising and donor data, operations data, interface with donors and schools, and assist in public relations and communications.
Duties and areas of responsibility include:
· Act as liaison for donors and fundraising efforts
· Manage donor recognition & sponsorship of wells
· Manage donor database, including data entry
· Manage water well database & reports
Communications & Public Relations
· Help manage social media channels; create, identify and post relevant content
· Assist with communications, public relations writing and manage website updates
· Assist with events and presentations
For more information, and to apply, please see full job posting here.