Monroe Community College's Holocaust Genocide and Human Rights Project: Long-Time WFSS Collaborator and Super Supporter

Water for South Sudan is pleased to highlight Monroe Community College (MCC): Holocaust Genocide and Human Rights Project (HGHRP), a student-run organization that has supported our mission and services since 2006.

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Established in 1990, the HGHRP is MCC's unique organization for telling the stories of the Holocaust and other genocides while transforming individuals to become advocates for human rights. To learn more about HGHRP please visit www.monroecc.edu/organizations/holocaust/.

Our relationship with HGHRP runs deep to the roots of WFSS’s establishment. When Salva was a student at MCC, he presented an organizational proposal to the college. This idea grew into a now 14-year relationship of support impacting the lives of thousands in South Sudan. Through their many efforts including the annual Walk for Water, the MCC community, members of the HGHRP and other supporters have raised over $72,000.

We sat down with members of the HGHRP team to chat about their support. Jodi Oriel, HGHRP Director, has been a long-time supporter of Salva and Water for South Sudan. Angelique Stevens, HGHRP Advisory Team Member has traveled to South Sudan and serves on the WFSS board of directors. Kim Hatfalvi serves as current President of HGHRP.

WFSS: What has surprised you most about the relationship between HGHRP and WFSS over the years?

JO: The endurance. Things are always changing and there is student turn-over every couple years but the relationship between the two organizations has become institutionalized at the college. Students of HGHRP are learning to think outside themselves and WFSS helps to teach that.

WFSS: What do you wish other people knew about WFSS?

KH: There are always ways to help people. The Walk for Water fundraiser is such a simple way for people to share what we are doing. We are helping provide water: a basic need. It’s empowering to know you can do something.

WFSS: How has your involvement with WFSS changed you?

KH: I helped plan a walk. Working with Salva has had a huge impact on me. Reading Salva’s story helped me better understand what my grandparents may have experienced when they lived in a refugee camp. To know what someone went through and to see they were able to come out of it is inspiring. Being involved in the project has helped me better understand what people experience.

AS: In my work as an English and Philosophy professor, I deal entirely in stories. Salva is the perfect example to help students learn all the stories. My favorite story is of the first well drilled. Once the geyser of water started coming out of the ground people were dancing and singing. One man couldn’t believe what he saw, “All this time people have been dying and we have been sitting on top of the water.” The people in this village just didn’t know. WFSS provides stories like this that so many people can relate to.

JO: Everyone can relate to some part of Salva’s story and the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. I have a responsibility to keep telling those stories through the mission of HGHRP. The current world has demanded the stories be told because we continue to repeat history and violate Human Rights today.

Thank you to Jodi, Angelique, Kim and the countless members of the MCC community for continuing to water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Your support will continue to impact lives for years to come.

Amazing Kids

Our donors contribute in ways large and small to enable our work. We are pleased to shine a spotlight on four Amazing Kids for their efforts to support Water for South Sudan and thank their families and communities for helping to impact lives in South Sudan.

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Ezra S., age 13 from New York

Last year, Ezra and his classmates read A Long Walk to Water and received a visit from Salva. Ezra felt connected to the cause especially after reading and hearing about how far people have to walk for water every day. As he prepared for his Bar Mitzvah project, he knew he wanted to raise funds for WFSS and support the people of South Sudan. Since he loves making smoothies he decided to host a smoothie fundraiser. Ezra created a smoothie order form and fundraising page. His mom Jessica helped share his fundraiser on Facebook and they received 40 orders. “One Sunday, we made the smoothies in individual containers and people stopped by to pick up their order,” Ezra said. “I also talked about the fundraiser during my Bar Mitzvah “thank you” speech. I handed out flyers with information about WFSS and the fundraiser. After, my dad sent out an email and mom posted a link on Facebook. Lots of people gave money without ordering.” Ezra’s advice to kids thinking about starting their own fundraiser, “Don’t just ask for money. Sell something that gets you involved in the fundraiser and motivates people to support your cause.”

When he’s not making smoothies, Ezra loves to bake and play sports. He enjoys baseball, basketball and football and he is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers.

 

Kye H., age 8 from Wisconsin

After his brother Logan read A Long Walk to Water, Kye decided to read the book and was moved to start a fundraiser. “I wrote a letter to Santa and asked for money instead of Christmas gifts.” Kye’s mom Lara added, “He explained in his letter that he wasn’t asking for the money for himself, but to help raise money for wells in South Sudan.” Kye also asked for support from extended family and his parent’s co-workers. Once family friends heard what he was doing, they wanted to help too. His advice to kids that want to fundraise but aren’t sure how to start, “All you have to do is put your mind to it and you can do anything you want.”

Kye loves to read, play Fortnight and go hiking. At the young age of 8 years old, Kye already knows he wants to be a plastic surgeon when he grows up. His reason why, “So I can help people with deformations.”

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Katie C., age 12 from Connecticut

A Long Walk to Water moved students and staff at Katie’s school to participate in the 2018 Iron Giraffe Challenge. Knowing she wanted to start a fundraiser as part of her Bat Mitzvah project, Katie decided to focus her efforts on supporting the people of South Sudan. “In third grade we had to come up with ideas to fundraise at my temple. I made a flyer with a pledge form and came up with Goals 4 Good,” Katie said. “I brought flyers to school, sold bracelets and asked the soccer team and family to support. Sometimes it’s easy to ask, sometimes it’s tough.” Katie’s advice to other kids interested in starting their own fundraiser, “Think of something you already like to do and make it interesting. Start by asking family for donations.” Katie’s goal is to raise enough funds to sponsor a well rehabilitation project.

Katie loves to sing, dance, draw and play the ukulele. She dreams of becoming a gym teacher to share her love of sports.

 

Zach B., age 13 from Louisiana

In 2018, Zach’s school raised funds to support WFSS.. This experience and learning how South Sudanese people trek to water resonated with him. As he began planning his Bar Mitzvah project, he was excited to learn he could continue to bring attention to this project and create his own fundraiser to support the people of South Sudan. “I decided to donate a percentage of all the gifts I received from my Bar Mitzvah. Some family and friends donated directly to WFSS,” Zach said. “I handed out brochures which included information about WFSS and sent emails to family and friends asking for support.” Zach’s advice to other kids interested in starting their own fundraiser, “Reach out to as many people as possible. Create a pamphlet or some other way to raise awareness about WFSS and your fundraiser.” Lainie, Zach’s mom added, “I think it’s amazing how one person can make a difference in the world.”

Zach’s dad Tad shared some fun facts about him: “Zach is a very diverse kid. He plays video games with his friends, lacrosse and the flute. He is also an avid reader so much so that teachers often have to remind him to put his book away. Zach has strong leadership qualities and maintains good grades in school.”

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Do you know an amazing kid?

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WFSS Teams Start 2019 Season

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Season Update

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) is pleased to announce that the 2019 season is off to a great start.

The rehab team, formed in 2017, got an early start in October, and as of Jan. 24 had rehabbed 31 older wells.

“We are very pleased with the rehab team,” notes Ater Akol “Lion” Thiep, WFSS Country Director. “The team is able to visit the older wells and assess what is needed. In addition, we are able to gather information on the use of the well over a number of years.”

Many of the older wells experience erosion on the cement platforms around the wells, and the cement drainage channels that lead to animal drinking troughs. WFSS’s improved process and design will keep these wells functional for years to come.

The drilling team started in January and has drilled five new wells as of Jan. 24. They are working in Tonj State in remote areas with limited access to gravel, and local water for drilling.

Separate hygiene education teams travel with both the drilling and rehab teams, delivering an improved curriculum on hygiene.

 

New Drilling Rigs

WFSS completed its capital campaign in 2017, with a major portion of the $1.2 million raised earmarked for a new drilling rig. Thanks to our working with PAT Rigs in Thailand, WFSS was able to purchase two rigs, the first of which arrived at our compound in Wau in January.  The 431T is a trailered rig which will be used as a back-up rig, for training, and as a complement to our larger rigs.

The new “Iron Giraffe” rig –the PAT 501, will become our main drilling rig and replace the current “Iron Giraffe” which we have had since 2008. The rig arrived on February 4. The team enthusiastically greeted the arrival

“The new rigs are a great addition for WFSS,” says Country Director Ajang “AJ” Agok. “The old rig had started breaking down. We now know we will have a reliable rig for many years to come.”

US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok, Lion and two team members traveled to Thailand in the fall to get hands-on training with the new rig, further cementing our relationship with the drilling rig manufacturer.

“We are very pleased with this purchase and, just as importantly, with the relationship with PAT,” said Prok. “Their support, and knowledge of drilling in the third world in general, and specifically South Sudan, will only help us further improve our procedures and outcomes.”

 

South Sudan News

WFSS keeps a close eye on developments in South Sudan, and our team on the ground serves an important role in keeping all informed. News out of South Sudan has been cautiously optimistic in recent months, with a general sense that the peace agreement signed in September, 2018, is holding. News of note includes reports that South Sudan oil fields are once again producing oil.

News of note:

South Sudan Resumes Oil Production in Former Unity State

South Sudan starts repairs, pumping oil from wells damaged in the civil war: minister

Young athletes come together in peace on National Unity Day in South Sudan

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 because 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.