Why We IGC: Conversations with kids

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Kids helping kids around the world!

The Iron Giraffe Challenge exists for energetic students and teachers to go beyond normal classroom learning to make an impact in our world. It’s for students to engage with Water for South Sudan and global water issues through fundraising and spreading awareness after reading A Long Walk to Water. Doing so, students not only help people and communities in South Sudan, they also learn life lessons about being selfless and the positive impact their actions can have.

Normally our Why We IGC blog highlights teachers at schools that have repeatedly participated in or won the IGC. This time we’re going directly to the kids that are impacted by the Iron Giraffe Challenge, including the students doing the fundraising AND the kids in South Sudan impacted by our work.

Here are some of our favorite student quotes and artwork showing the impact of the IGC and how it helps students learn about global citizenship:


Sixth graders at Loveland Intermediate School in Ohio shared the following thoughts on the IGC:

“I liked doing the IGC becuase I felt like I could contribute to people in South Sudan. The thought of someone who doesn’t have water makes me unhappy, so I wanted to help. I want to start helping people at a young age so I can be a good person.” -Andrew S.

“What I liked about participating in the IGC is that all of us knew that the money we donated is going to help kids who need water. I also liked it because I felt like it made everybody in our school closer and made us feel thankful for what we have.” -Connor F.

“This whole challenge has really inspired me to go out into the world and make a difference.” -George T.


“I like to help others too. I participated in the challenge to help children. I felt joyful and thrilled.”

-Felipe, The American School of Belo Horizonte, Brazil


Students at Shady Side Academy in Pennsylvania reflect on their participation:

“It really opens your eyes up to the world around you and the struggles people face and how you can help them.” -Tommy

“I really liked learning about what is happening in other parts of the world related to water and how you can’t just get water out of the tap.” -Jeffrey

“We got to walk and feel like the people in South Sudan feel like when they don’t have water. We got to walk around in other people’s shoes.” -Trey and Shane


Abour at Zogolona Primary School in Wau, South Sudan writes:

“Personally I am very glad because there will be no ‘A Long Walk to Water.’ The well improve any activity in our school. We are appreciating your goodwill. Congratulation! To you all your donation is very fruitful. At least we are still lacking classrooms, bench, kitchen and fence if there is possibility then you keep up that spirit of helping our school or you guys pass our appeal to other schools in USA.”

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“This is my 5th time reading the book . . . You really have motivated me to do better and stop wasting water.”

-Aryanna, Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication, CT


Students at Gayman Elementary School in Pennsylvania got creative by drawing posters!

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“I liked the IGC because we got to raise money to help people. I got the joy of knowing people have fresh water to drink because of me.”

-Iyona B., Loveland Intermediate School, OH


Join the Iron Giraffe Challenge today! If your school raises $1,000 you’ll be entered into the prize drawing for a chance to win a visit from Salva or one of our video call prizes. Don’t miss this opportunity to make a difference and change the lives of children. Walk with us to water the seeds of change in South Sudan!

Registration is open until March 15, 2019. Donations accepted for the IGC until April 5, 2019 and the prize drawing is April 9, 2019!

Employment Opportunity: WFSS is hiring

Join our team today!

Are you passionate about our work? Do you want to join a diverse team that transforms lives and makes a positive impact everyday in South Sudan? If so, these opportunities may be for you!

Coordinator, Juba, South Sudan

WFSS is looking for a Coordinator based in Juba, South Sudan. This individual will manage government relations, apply for key grant opportunities, develop existing partnerships, and pursue new collaborations with other NGOs or businesses. The ideal candidate will be an independent, organized leader with relevant experience.

If you are interested and believe you may be a good candidate, please view the full job description below and submit the appropriate application materials!


Public Relations Intern, Penfield, NY

WFSS seeks a motivated, organized and reliable individual to assist in public relations and communications efforts based out of our office in Penfield, NY during Summer 2019. The ideal candidate will have completed or be working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Journalism, Marketing, Public Relations, or a related field and have relevant experience.

If you are interested and believe you may be a good candidate, please view the full job description below and submit the appropriate application materials!


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Plans for WFSS 2018-19 Season

WFSS looks forward to serving many more people this year, thanks to our supporters around the world. WFSS teams plan to drill 40 new wells, rehabilitate up to 50 older wells, and provide hygiene education in all villages they visit, impacting over 50,000 people in remote villages. Read on for more details on the 2018-19 season.

Villagers in Jur River County show their appreciation to WFSS for repairing their well.

Villagers in Jur River County show their appreciation to WFSS for repairing their well.

Season’s Plans

Our Country Directors usually aim for an early start to give themselves enough time should there be any delays. The rehab team got an extra early start, beginning in early October. As of December 11, they have rehabbed 24 older wells and also provided hygiene education in those villages, serving close to 20,000 people.

We had planned to start drilling in December, but a slowdown at the border has pushed that start to January. One of the many challenges our teams face is crossing the border into South Sudan. WFSS purchases most of our drilling supplies in Kampala, Uganda, and sends them to South Sudan by truck. Customs paperwork is often time-consuming, and this year presented extra challenges. The trucks have cleared the border as of December 12 and are on the way to the WFSS operations center in Wau. After unloading the supplies our team will take a short Christmas holiday break, and then be ready to go in early January.

 

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New Drilling Rigs

Our two new drilling rigs are each on the way, with expected arrivals at our operations center in December and January. The larger 501 PAT rig (pictured at right) is currently on an ocean-going vessel, due to arrive at the port in Mombasa, Kenya, later this month.

 

Maximizing Resources

In order to maximize resources, the rehab team will start 2019 with the drilling team. The drilling team will drill new wells and install all hardware, pipes and pumps, and then move on to the next village. The rehab team will then serve as a platform team to finish the wells, installing concrete platforms and drainage channels. This will speed up the new well process to ensure that we can drill as many wells as possible.

The rehab team will then go back to rehabilitating wells in early spring to finish out their season and reach their goals.

 

Security Reports from South Sudan

We are in constant contact with our team, who continually monitor safety and security. Our team reports that the area around our operations center, and the areas in which we plan to drill and rehabilitate wells, have been stable and safe.

Our team also reports that more IDPs (internally displaced persons) are returning home from refugee camps. As we start our 15th season, WFSS is well aware of safety and security issues. Our team is in full contact with government and security forces in South Sudan and works diligently to maintain the safety of our teams and equipment.

WFSS remains cautiously optimistic that the recent peace deal, signed in September, 2018, will hold and the country will become more stable, and much-needed development can continue.

 

THANK YOU!

Thanks to supporters in all 50 states and 51 other countries, WFSS has now drilled 350 new wells, rehabilitated 83 older wells and provided hygiene education to 252 villages, impacting over 300,000 people. We look forward to continuing to water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Thanks for your support!

 

Why We IGC: A conversation with stellar supporters at Ridgway Middle School

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Committed students at Ridgway Middle School lead all of their school’s fundraising efforts, learning simultaneously about helping others and leadership!

Our passionate supporters at Ridgway Middle School in New Jersey have an innovative student-led model to support Water for South Sudan which has helped them reach fundraising goals and has placed young students in key leadership roles. We recently asked Candi Schwartz, a 5th grade math teacher at the school, about their efforts and experiences. Continue reading the interview below to learn about their Iron Giraffe Committee, special dedication month, and overall enthusiasm (you can see some awesome t-shirts, too)!


WFSS: Why did you first decide to participate in the Iron Giraffe Challenge? How did you learn of it?

Candi: Here at Ridgway Middle School, we had guest readers come into our fifth grade classrooms and read the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. On the last day of the reading, the fifth grade students discussed the book collaboratively and decided they wanted to help the people of South Sudan. The fifth grade teachers researched ALL possible ways to help and presented them to the fifth grade class. Every fifth grader voted and they voted to raise money for the IGC. Having a well drilled was only one vote less. The executive decision was then made to do both!

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WFSS: You participated in the IGC for three years in a row and completed the pledge each year. What was your motivation and your students’ motivation for doing so?

Candi: Honestly, the students’ biggest motivation is the chance of winning a visit with Salva himself. He is like a rock star here at Ridgway Middle School Don’t get me wrong, the (now seventh graders) want nothing more than to help the people of South Sudan, but the chance of having their “hero” here at their school is great motivation!

WFSS: Your school fundraises primarily during the month of March for Water for South Sudan. Can you explain your thoughts behind having a special month to focus on WFSS and what activities you do?

Candi: The Iron Giraffe Committee meets all school year. Having one focus month of fundraising is for the sole purpose of time and energy. Everyone is seriously busy (kids included) with many clubs and after school activities. The decision was made to dedicate one month and work 100% (or more) on South Sudan only. The kids and staff involved go 500 mph for the entire month. We love everything about it and there are really no words to express the gratitude we feel behind every single donation!

The students and staff members collect money every day at lunch for different weekly incentives. Weekly incentives include: Tape a teacher to the wall, bracelet sales, t-shirt sales, turn the cafeteria wall blue, pay to get out of class for 1 ½ board game time, etc… All ideas come from our students involved in the Iron Giraffe Committee. We also have a WFSS dance!

“We love everything about it and there are really no words to express the gratitude we feel behind every single donation!”

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WFSS: What has been the most inspiring part of fundraising with your students?

Candi: For me, the most inspiring part is watching the children work hard for others. The students have a deep passion for Salva and helping the people in South Sudan. They feel like they are making a difference by using their time, energy, and talents!

“The students have a deep passion for Salva and helping the people in South Sudan. They feel like they are making a difference by using their time, energy, and talents!”

WFSS: What would you say to a teacher considering participating in the Iron Giraffe Challenge? Do you have any advice for them?

Candi: I would definitely encourage any teacher to participate in the IGC. My advice would be to start by reading the book and then go from there. You don’t need all the answers. I had no clue what I was doing and if I’m being honest, I still don’t have a clue. The kids are the ones with the amazing ideas, I just help facilitate. At the end of the day, everything is for good, everything is helping the people of South Sudan. There really isn’t a way to mess up. Just jump in and wing it! This is what I did and my co-workers jumped in right along with me and it’s the best decision we ever made.


Thank you to Candi for taking the time to speak with us and to everyone at Ridgway Middle School for their continued support! If you would like to join the IGC alongside passionate like-minded educators and students, visit this page to register and learn more!

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Notes from South Sudan: Traveling Back

I felt very at home during our two weeks in South Sudan. I was keenly aware that we all live under the same sky, and the same sun and moon shine down on us, wherever we live. I was especially moved to realize that children are children, all over the world. One day, sitting outside in our compound, I heard village children playing. If I closed my eyes I could have been on my back porch, hearing neighborhood children laughing, yelling and playing.

But time had begun to hang on me a bit, I missed my family, and I was ready to go home. We traveled back to Juba and the delights of a shower with running water, and air conditioning. A cold beer also helped. We had re-entered civilization and were soon heading home.

The trip home took 27 hours, and even longer for me to re-adjust. I took a hot shower immediately. I slept deeply the first night. But I didn’t know how to make sense of my trip. I also brought with me some kind of stomach distress, which made the re-entry a bit more difficult.

I thought often about the women in South Sudan – mothers like myself—and thought about how hard their lives are, even with access to water. They still walk for water, although those in villages with wells get to carry clean water home for their families. Some children have access to school, but not the education that we are so fortunate to have. Health improves, but people can still get malaria fairly easily. One of our country directors and one of our cooks had malaria while we were there. Life improves, but it is still a challenge in South Sudan.

After about a week back home I started to feel like myself again. After about two weeks I gained a deeper appreciation of our work. Water for South Sudan does transform lives. But life in the newest country on earth will not drastically change overnight, or this year, or decade. Change will come slowly. I am so proud of our work, and the thousands of supporters who enable it, helping to water the seeds of change in South Sudan. And we’re doing it, one drop at a time.

Children stand near a market in Wau.

Children stand near a market in Wau.

Read previous posts in this series: Transforming Lives and Traveling to the Field

WFSS team concludes a successful trip to South Sudan! From left to right: Anne, Salva, Lynn, Glenn and AJ.

WFSS team concludes a successful trip to South Sudan! From left to right: Anne, Salva, Lynn, Glenn and AJ.

Notes from South Sudan: Transforming Lives

WFSS well near Wau.

WFSS well near Wau.

Life changes everywhere we drill, including at the WFSS compound. When the current compound was constructed, WFSS drilled a well for compound use, and invited nearby villagers to use it. A village has sprung up around our compound, drawn, in part, by access to fresh water.

I watched young girls come to fill up their cans, sometimes going airborne as they worked the hand pump. The well is a short distance from their huts, and their mothers know they can send them to a safe place to get water.

As we drove through Wau, Salva pointed out several WFSS wells in use. We hopped out at two wells to meet the people using the wells, and to discover who had sponsored them. I was delighted to stop at the first well and discover it was sponsored by a donor from Rochester, NY to whom I had recently spoken.

Lynn at “her well” near Wau.

Lynn at “her well” near Wau.

We then stopped at another well and began to brush away the debris to see whose name was on the well. Letters began to appear – L – Y –N –N…. I began to jump up and down as I yelled, “This is my well!!!”

The team had a few “extra” wells in 2013 with no additional sponsor names, so they dedicated them to two board members, and me. I had not thought about this well again until we came upon it. It was an absolute joy to see my name in the cement, and to meet the women who use the well. The interconnection of life, water, and WFSS came full circle for me.

People around the world support our work. Salva came half-way across the world to start his new life in America, and has gone back, to help his people. And now I too got to go half-way around the world, to see the life-saving impact of clean water.

 

2018-19 Season Begins for Rehab Team

Children gather around newly rehabilitated well in Jur River County.

Children gather around newly rehabilitated well in Jur River County.

The WFSS team in South Sudan has been preparing for the 2018-19 season since we ended the last season in May. Plans for 2018-19 include drilling 40 new wells, rehabilitating up to 50 older wells, and providing hygiene education in every village where we drill or rehab a well. We will also continue monitoring the pilot latrine project that was installed this year at Zogolona Primary School in Wau.

The rehab team got an early start this year, heading out in early October. As of November 1 they had already rehabbed 13 older wells, and provided hygiene education in all 13 villages. Older wells, while still producing water, often show signs of erosion and wear. The rehab team visits older WFSS wells to bring them up to new design standards. They make any necessary repairs and then rebuild the cement platform and drainage channel around the well, thus ensuring the well will have many more years of use.

In recent conversations with villagers whose wells were rehabbed we have learned more about the impact of our work. Aluel Wol Nuer was originally trained on well maintenance when a well was drilled in the village of Majama in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, and shared with us how much life has improved since the well was drilled in 2013.

Clean water continues to flow from a rehabbed well in Bahr-Sherki in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

Clean water continues to flow from a rehabbed well in Bahr-Sherki in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

“My life was so bad before the WFSS team arrived in the village,” he said. “We used to drink unclean water which led to sickness. Distance was also quite long; sometimes we may get water, or we may not. People may also sleep on an empty stomach, due to lack of water.”

Sunday Emmnauel Kenyi of Sumut village in Warrap State also shared how hard life was.

“We did drink dirty water,” he recalled. “We were getting waterborne diseases when we used water from unprotected sources.”

Both villagers enthusiasitcally noted the positive impact on their lives and villages.

“I can see the changes in many areas,” said Wol Nuer.

Emmanuel Kenyi agreed. “My life has improved,” he said. “WFSS has helped with clean water. Now we can drink clean water which can make a good quality of life. Our animals are also enjoying water together with us since the well has been drilled.”

Villages where WFSS drilled before 2014 did not receive hygiene training when wells were installed, so a hygiene team now travels with the rehab team to help train villagers in improved hygiene practices.

Drilling Team Preparing for End of November Start

The drilling team requires more preparation to begin a new season, as many more supplies are needed for drilling new wells. WFSS Country Director Ater Akol Thiep is currently in Kampala, Uganda, buying pumps, pipes, and other supplies needed for new wells. Those materials will then be loaded on to trucks to be driven north to Wau, South Sudan. The current plan has the drilling team heading into the field by the end of November. The drilling team also has its own hygiene education team which help villages determine hygiene practices in need of improvement and then delivers village-specific training to help expand the impact of clean water.

The season will start with our older rig, the DR-150, as we await shipment of our new PAT drilling rigs, on their way from Thailand.

“We are very excited to have our new rigs delivered,” said Thiep. “A lot of hard work has gone into the research and planning for this. We look forward to our new and improved drilling rigs to help us drill even faster.”

Stay tuned for more news and updates from WFSS as the 2018-19 season continues. Thank you for your support!


Inspired by Water: Fundraising brunch takes place in Rochester, NY

On a crisp fall day in upstate New York, our team at Water for South Sudan hosted a festive fundraising brunch: Inspired by Water: Celebrating 15 years with Salva. Held at La Luna restaurant, this venue boasted beautiful views overlooking High Falls as old friends, longtime supporters, and new acquaintances gathered to meet Salva, browse the marketplace of handmade African items, enjoy brunch, and participate in live and silent auctions. Local volunteers supported our staff as we welcomed over 200 guests to spend the afternoon with us.

Attendees first enjoyed time to mingle, take pictures, and explore the marketplace with African items that WFSS team members bought during this year’s trip to South Sudan. We had beautiful woven baskets, brightly beaded necklaces, and colorful purses. No two products were the same speaking to the fact that all were hand-made! There was no shortage of giraffes in our market as we know from years past these items are a hit. Giraffe scarves, statues, and note cards flew off the tables! Salva even signed the “Greetings from South Sudan” giraffe plaques to give them a special touch. Some of the very few American-made products were metal bracelets donated by Jordan Miner, a teen who created Jammin Hammer Jewelry with his mom. This duo donates proceeds from their sales to non-profits and has supported WFSS since 2015. Jordan graciously donated bracelets boasting the phrases “Keep Walking” and “Water is Life” to our event.

The Mount Hope World Singers gave a beautiful performance of two African-inspired songs to begin the program. To celebrate our 15th anniversary year, emcee Alexis Arnold, Salva, Board President Bob Shea, and Executive Director Lynn Malooly recognized Board members, noted accomplishments since drilling the first well in 2005, and shared what is coming next for the water, hygiene, and sanitation programs.

The room is set for the event to begin!

The room is set for the event to begin!

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Our team also recognized local supporters who have made extraordinary contributions to the organization over the years. The third annual Founder’s Award, established to recognize individuals who have been longtime donors, friends, and advocates of WFSS, was presented to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. From Salva’s first weeks in the United States and continuing today, St. Paul’s has been an unwavering financial and organizational supporter.

Reverend Rob Picken and Reverend Frederic Reynolds accept the  Founder’s Award  on behalf of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Reverend Rob Picken and Reverend Frederic Reynolds accept the Founder’s Award on behalf of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Salva presents Angelique Stevens with the  Long Walk Award.

Salva presents Angelique Stevens with the Long Walk Award.

Salva then presented Board member Angelique Stevens with the third annual Long Walk Award. Created to recognize individuals who have demonstrated great passion for the work of WFSS and made transformational contributions, this award speaks to Stevens’ dedication during her two trips to South Sudan, and assistance in developing our monitoring and evaluation and well rehab projects.

The program concluded with the marketplace practically empty, each guest having spoken with Salva, and a content staff that everything had run smoothly. A great time was had by all and attendees were generous in their support. We enjoyed a successful celebration of 15 years dedicated to transforming lives! Some of our favorite photos from the event are below. Please feel free to download and share them as you wish, but be sure to tag WFSS in any social media postings!

A final acknowledgement goes out to our sponsors as the event would not be possible without their support. Thank you to the following groups and individuals:

Salva’s Circle: The William and Sheila Konar Foundation
Village Circle: Bond Benefits Consulting
15th Anniversary Circle: Cricket on the Hearth; Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project at Monroe Community College
Drilling Circle: Alouette Tool Company; Cornerstone Advisory Group; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Seeds of Change: Best Times Financial; Sue Coia; Cook Communications; Nancy Curme; Fish and Crown Creative; Nancy and Robert Frank; Global Precision Products; Laura Hayden; Heveron and Company; Christopher and Louise Moore; Penfield Rotary Club; RIT School of Communication; Bob Shea and Kate Weisskopf; Anne Turner and Harry Bohrs; Paula Vargas

Notes from South Sudan: Traveling to the Field

Jerry cans at WFSS well in Aweil.

Jerry cans at WFSS well in Aweil.

Leaving the WFSS compound in Wau, and its relative comforts, we embarked on a journey to witness the work that our founder Salva Dut started 15 years ago, work that inspires our supporters across the US and around the world.

After a four and a half-hour ride on uneven, rough and rutted roads, never traveling more than 40 mph, we arrived at our campsite in Aweil State. The drilling team had chosen a site under a large tree, not far from a new WFSS well so that the cooks would have access to fresh water as the drilling and hygiene teams were working.

There were long lines of jerry cans at the newly installed well, and we met women whose lives have been changed by closer access to fresh water. There were many smiles among those waiting to fill their cans. One woman shared, “We used to go to another well, far away. It used to be hard to cook and wash. Now, with a well, it is easy—we just bring a can and fill it up. It’s so great. With dirt it is hard to take a bath. Now the children are so clean. The well is helping them so much.”

New well sponsored by University of Notre Dame class of 1984.

New well sponsored by University of Notre Dame class of 1984.

We were thrilled to travel the short distance from our campsite to the drilling site. We watched as villagers young and old gathered around to observe the transformation of their village. We watched the noisy work of our drilling rig and compressor as the teams installed pipes and blew out the dirt and dirty water that is the by-product of drilling.

Field work is hard and dirty work. The heat was often overwhelming for us. But no one complains. Villagers gathered each day to watch. We continued with our administrative “meetings under the trees” as the well was constructed, trying to make the most of our time.

Board President Glenn Balch with village deputy chief.

Board President Glenn Balch with village deputy chief.

I had an extra interest in this well as I was personally involved in the fundraising that sponsored it. My University of Notre Dame class raised enough money to have our name inscribed on the well. My heart was full to overflowing as I watched the WFSS complete their work, and then was able to stand with the villagers beside their new well.  I was overjoyed to stand in the photos with our banner, and the villagers who will use the well.

The deputy village chief, Tong Yel, was also overjoyed. He told us over and over that we would be blessed for bringing this well. “We appreciate those who helped us get clean water. Our children will have a better life. I wish generations to come would see you. The community would not have enough to purchase a well. We wish they had more to show their appreciation. God be with you and bless you.”

Leaving the field, we knew that lives would be changed, and we were changed as well, but the need continues. There are still many villages waiting for wells. Our team works with local leaders to determine well placement, but we cannot provide a well to every village. Our team must often share the hard news that we cannot provide a well this season. But this season we know that 49 villages did receive new wells, as WFSS helped to water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Being there to witness the watering was nothing short of spectacular.

WFSS Team Visits Drill Rig Manufacturer as "Iron Giraffe" is Built

WFSS sent an operations team to Bangkok in September to visit the factory where our new drilling rig, aka our “Iron Giraffe,” is being built.

Country Director Ater Akol Thiep, US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok, Assistant Driller David Tombe Pitia and Akoon Kuol Mawien, Mechanic in Training, visited the factory and headquarters of PAT Drilling in Bangkok, Thailand. The team was very pleased with all that they saw and learned and emphasized the value of the on-going relationship with a vendor that has extensive experience in drilling in general, and also with drilling in South Sudan.

The team met with PAT engineers and toured the manufacturing facility. They received additional hands-on training with various aspects of drilling, including use of compressor, mud pump assembly and hammer drilling. They also went to the field with the same model rig we are buying to see the rig in action and did were able to drill in the field as well.

“As a result of this visit the WFSS team will be implementing some process changes in our efforts to be continuously improving all that we do,” said WFSS Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok. “Purchasing this new rig will help us improve the work we are doing in South Sudan, and support our goals of continuous improvement in South Sudan.”

The team looks forward to taking possession of the new rig in Wau, South Sudan, by the end of November, in time for the 2018-19 season.

WFSS thanks all of our sponsors, including the hundreds of schools, and thousands of students, who helped raise funds for our “Iron Giraffe” through the WFSS Iron Giraffe Challenge.

 

Inspired By Water Brunch with Salva Oct. 14 in Rochester

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Join us for brunch with Salva as we celebrate our 15th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 14 at La Luna Restaurant in Rochester, NY.

Inspired by Water celebrates 15 years of bringing clean, safe water to isolated villages in South Sudan. In a historic building with a terrace and waterfall view, the event features a delicious buffet, handcrafted African pieces and paintings by Rochester artist Steve Roe in the WFSS Marketplace, and live auction prizes including a private brunch with Salva at Mario's Homemade Pasta Kitchen, and a dinner with Salva at La Luna Restaurant.

Salva will visit each table at the event to personally offer his gratitude.

Salva will also present the 3rd annual Founder's Award to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rochester, and the 3rd annual Long Walk Award to WFSS Board member Angelique Stevens.

12:00 P.M.  Browse our WFSS Marketplace
1:00 P.M.    Brunch is served
1:30 P.M.    Founder's and Long Walk Awards & Live Auction

 

Why We IGC: An interview with the 2017-18 Winner, Pine Lake Prep Charter School

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As summer comes to a close, the fifth Iron Giraffe Challenge is ramping up with the new school year!

Each school taking on this challenge works to raise $1,000 for a chance to win a visit from Salva Dut! Since its beginning in 2014, over 500 schools have participated in the IGC. Here at WFSS we love to witness students so committed to helping others and to see the creative ways they fundraise.

With the IGC being one of our most-supported events and entries for this year’s challenge rolling in, we wanted to share the thoughts of a three-time IGC participant and our most recent IGC winner! I interviewed Natalie Goodwin of Pine Lake Prep Charter to see what has motivated her to fundraise with her seventh grade students for the past few years and to hear about their winning visit from Salva.

WFSS: Why did you first decide to participate in the Iron Giraffe Challenge? How did you learn of it?  

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Natalie: After reading the novel A Long Walk to Water for the first time several years ago, students voted unanimously to raise some funds to send to WFSS. The novel just lends itself to reaching out and giving back. Not knowing yet about the IGC, we did something on a very small scale and sent in a donation. So when the IGC was announced, or when we discovered it on the WFSS web page the next year, we were so excited! The IGC is tailored to schools; it gave us a structure to follow for giving back to WFSS and a goal to shoot for while competing against other schools! Students love a good competition!

WFSS: You participated in the Iron Giraffe Challenge for 3 years in a row and completed the IGC each year. What was your motivation and your students’ motivation for doing so?

Natalie: Each year, my students love the novel LWTW, and they love watching the videos and the TED talks of Salva. I always have a large bulletin board in my room with photos of South Sudan and Salva. It is very natural that they are motivated to want to help after reading and exploring this compelling story. I try to ensure that they feel like they are making the decision to take the IGC, and they are involved in the plans for our fundraisers. I don’t want them to feel like it is my vision or plan only. I want them to feel empowered!

WFSS: How did students react to meeting Salva after winning the 2017-18 IGC?

Natalie: Our students were immensely excited- more than I could have ever imagined. For many, I can truly say it was an experience they will never forget. They were inspired by his talk and by what he has overcome and done with his life. Students wanted to take photos with him and to hug him. After one of his talks in our auditorium, a student who has had some struggles at our school and who felt a connection with Salva came forward to the stage and asked to speak privately with him which he did.  It was very touching.

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WFSS: What has been the most inspiring part of fundraising with your students? 

Natalie: The most inspiring part has been watching my students each year come to understand life exists outside of their “bubble” and that humans are human no matter where they live or how much they have. Yet, everyone should have the right for fresh water and the benefits it brings. I teach seventh-graders, most of whom have not yet had that many experiences with putting the interests of others before themselves. So, it is inspiring to watch them do that, grow from the experience and want to help people on another continent. My hope is that participating in the IGC will influence them and lead them to becoming life-long global citizens who have an awareness and a genuine interest in helping others in need around the world.


"My hope is that participating in the IGC will influence them and lead them to becoming life-long global citizens who have an awareness and a genuine interest in helping others in need around the world."


WFSS: What would you say to a teacher considering participating in the Iron Giraffe Challenge? Do you have any advice for them?

Natalie: I would say “go for it” of course!

WFSS, the novel LWTW, and the IGC all make it easy for teachers to participate with their classes or their schools. I would say it’s okay to start small- but just start. I have told my students in the past that even if we don’t raise the set amount or we don’t win the contest, we have still done a great thing-no matter how small- to change the world!

For the past three years, only classes of seventh graders have entered the IGC, so again we started small, but now we have a history with WFSS and the IGC and I am appealing to our entire K-12 school to get on board this year with the fundraising. Now, we are moving ahead to the next step and our goal is to raise money for an entire well through WFSS. So it can be hard in the beginning to get others on board who don’t yet know the story and about WFSS. Winning the challenge helped us to educate others at our school about this amazing non-profit WFSS.


Thank you to Natalie for taking the time to speak with us and thank you to everyone at Pine Lake Prep Charter School for their support! We can’t wait to see who our next winner of the IGC is in April 2019!