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.
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.
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
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.
Funding a new “Iron Giraffe” to replace our tired drilling rig was at the forefront of WFSS’s Watering the Seeds of Change Capital Campaign, which raised $1.2 million for the drilling rig and other needed vehicles and drilling equipment and for technical training for our staff in South Sudan. The estimated cost of the drilling rig was $500,000. Through the Iron Giraffe Challenge, students across the world raised $511,166 for the new drilling rig – an astounding 42 percent of all campaign funds.
With the funding secured, WFSS’s operations team began their due diligence to find the drilling rig best suited to our needs at the best cost. The team worked tirelessly – working with our drilling team to pinpoint what is needed in a new rig, attending conferences to learn about the latest technology, and talking with drilling rig manufacturers about specs. PAT-drill was ultimately chosen as the vendor.
Promotion of appropriate technology (PAT) is PAT-drill’s mission. They were very knowledgeable about the environment and conditions in South Sudan and were able to offer great advice on what is working best for their other clients drilling in South Sudan. PAT-drill designs and builds their rigs in Bankok, Thailand. They have a sales and service office in South Sudan where our team will have access to technical support. PAT-drill keeps their equipment lightweight – making it cheaper to buy, easier to transport, and less costly to operate.
As a result of the operations team’s rigorous process of identifying and choosing a vendor we came in way under the anticipated $500,000 budget. We are actually purchasing two drilling rigs at a cost of just under $400,000! We have ordered a large rig mounted on a truck, our new “Iron Giraffe,” and a smaller rig mounted on a trailer. The small rig will be used as back up for the large rig and for training our staff–The additional money raised for the rig will purchase vehicles needed for our new rehabilitation team, launched in 2017.
Salva, the Board of Directors, and our teams in the U.S. and South Sudan are grateful to everyone who contributed to the capital campaign, especially all of the teachers and students who worked so hard to help us to fund a new “Iron Giraffe.” You are making a difference to people in isolated villages who without a well would not have safe water.
The following is the second in a series of blog posts, entitled "Notes from South Sudan", by Lynn Malooly (left), Executive Director of Water for South Sudan. She and several other WFSS team members traveled to South Sudan in March 2018. Look for more stories from her in the coming months.
After a few days in the capital city of Juba we flew to Wau, the second largest city in South Sudan, and our travels took us deeper into the country. With a population of about 150,000, Wau was unlike any city I had ever seen. Many residents live in simple mud and grass huts. The main roads are dirt and as we drove we navigated around pot holes, cows, goats, and people. People walk everywhere, and a lucky few get around by bicycle. Our local team met us at the airport and faces came alive as I met, in person for the first time, some of our local managers. We were also met with the heat. Salva reminded us over and over to wear our hats and stay hydrated. He told us that we needed to sweat—it was our bodies’ way to keep cool, and stave off heatstroke. And so we sweated… all the time. Water bottles became our constant companions.
We came home to the WFSS compound in Wau, the heart of our work in South Sudan and were delighted to meet more of our team. The compound was a busy scene, filled with vehicles, equipment and team members, including the compound dog, Blessing. We sat down to the first of many home-cooked meals, all served outside.
We were impressed with the hard work of the entire WFSS team, but especially our cooks. The women toil every day, making breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of our team members. A small shack serves as their kitchen where they prepare meals, which they then cook outside over charcoal and wood fires on the ground. When we expressed our admiration, Salva told us that when there is a job opening, often 100 women will line up outside our compound. WFSS is a very desirable job opportunity, especially for women. Those of us who have the luxury of cooking in the US urged our team to move the construction of a simple new kitchen to a high priority item.
While there, US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok assisted the team as they brought our first drilling rig back online. This small rig can now be used as back-up, for local drilling, and as a training rig for team members ready to learn and grow. We witnessed the administrative work of our team, working in small offices, with just ceiling fans to move the hot air around. We also experienced the internet in South Sudan—a miracle that it’s there, and certainly not the lightning speed we were used to back home.
We spent four days in the compound, including numerous meetings under the shade of trees in the 100+ degree heat, reviewing operations and job descriptions, and planning for the future.
Next up, we would travel into the field, to witness the work of WFSS.
The WFSS teams have had a successful season, and are now beginning to wind down as the rainy season approaches.
To date, the drilling team has drilled 36 new wells, and is on target to hit its goal of 44 new wells. The rehabilitation team has repaired 19 of our older wells, and is also on target, planning to repair 25 older wells. Our two hygiene teams have traveled with the drilling and rehab teams, helping communities improve hygiene practices.
All of the teams are making their way back to our Operations Center in Wau, and will be able to continue their work as they travel. As the rainy season begins, the roads we use will soon become impassable.
We are looking forward to sharing updates on our almost-completed school sanitation project in Wau, where we are installing latrines at the Zogolona Primary School.
Thanks to our supporters around the world for supporting our work and helping to improve the lives of those we serve as we help to develop communities in South Sudan.