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.
When John Zehren’s wife came home from a school event talking about the book A Long Walk to Water he instantly wanted to read the book. Inspired by Salva’s story, John shared it with one of his trainers, Michelle Malinowski, who had just returned from a medical mission.
John, who is Vice President of Sales at Medtronic Neurovascular, and Michelle, who is a Field Education Consultant, conceived the idea of live streaming Salva into their National Sales meeting. Following Salva’s live stream presentation an astonishing $18,000 was raised in 20 minutes from Medtronic’s field representatives.
Medtronic’s Mission in Motion for global outreach programs sponsors initiatives that support the community and also help to ensure sustainable solutions to key societal challenges.
“Providing a platform where we can do something bigger than us, and with a global perspective, is pretty great. It also aligns with our values as Medtronic employees and our global outreach efforts,” John commented.
Medtronic Neurovascular sponsored a well that was drilled during the 2018 season in the Parot Aker village in South Sudan, and they are well on their way to funding a second well. To date, Medtronic’s employees have collectively donated more than $28,000. “Everyone should have access to clean water. We are so fortunate here in America,” said John.
“Corporate partnerships are a win-win; they strengthen our overall fundraising program and give employees a meaningful way to make a global impact,” said WFSS Director of Development Cindy DeCarolis. "This partnership with Medtronic has been very fortunate, and has allowed us to do great work in South Sudan."
Water for South Sudan is so grateful to John, Michelle, and the dozens of Medtronic employees and friends who have donated to make clean water a reality for the people of Parot Aker village in South Sudan.
Water for South Sudan is proud to highlight H2O for Life, an organization that has supported our mission and services since 2008 using an incredibly unique and exceptional approach.
H2O for Life provides a service-learning opportunity for schools in the United States that helps teachers and students raise awareness about the global water crisis while taking action to provide funds for a water, sanitation, and hygiene education project for a partner school in the developing world. H2O for Life is small, but mighty. Their international office is located in White Bear Lake, MN, where five staff members power their operations.
Their backstory: Founder of H2O for Life Patty Hall was a teacher at Highview Middle School, MN in 2006 when she received a request from a friend in Kenya to assist them to fund a water project for their village. She introduced the project to her students at the time, who embraced the challenge and raised $13,000. Throughout the project, students learned about the global water crisis and connected with the Kenyan local community. This service-learning success led to additional projects and a relationship with WFSS as an implementing partner.
Over the course of their many years of partnership with WFSS, H2O for Life has facilitated over $250,000 in donations from schools all over the US.
Patty first heard about WFSS through a Rotary Club connection in San Diego, California. One of the Rotarians she met there mentioned that his club was working with Salva Dut in South Sudan. The partnership with WFSS began during the 2008 school year. On that same visit to San Diego, H2O for Life met one of the authors of the book They Poured Fire on us from the Sky, another book about South Sudan. One of the Sudanese authors of the book was scheduled to speak at a local school near H2O for Life’s office in Minnesota. Teacher Sara Damon of that school embedded curriculum into her classroom, and through a collaboration with H2O for Life, donated more than $80,000 over eight years raised by her students for WFSS. She and her students are rock-stars!
Now, teachers and students fundraising through H2O for Life work collaboratively to take actions to raise funds to support implementation of wells by WFSS. WFSS provides photos of completed projects that allow our participating students to see the impact of their fundraising actions. The hope is to provide opportunities for youth to become global citizens who will be future advocates and champions for our global water resources.
"H2O for Life searches for partners that believe in engaging youth to become leaders of change. Our program focuses on providing educational opportunities for youth to learn about the important global issue--WATER. WFSS shares our vision!" -Steve Hall, H2O for Life
Thank you to Patty and Steve Hall, and all the many, many students and teachers who have made this collaboration so successful over the years!
WFSS is supported by generous donors from all 50 US states and 44 other countries. Our donors contribute in ways large and small to enable our work. We are pleased to shine our donor spotlight this month on Brian and Ann, a couple from New Hampshire who were inspired by Salva’s story and have been moved to become regular donors.
Ann remembers reading one of the first news stories about Salva in the early years of Water for Sudan. “It touched me in so many ways,” she recalls. She said that she and her husband were at a point in their lives where, having finished paying their children’s college tuition, were looking for a way to be more focused in their charitable giving.
“I was immediately taken by Salva’s story and decided that this was something I wanted to become involved with.”
Ann noted the growth of WFSS in the years they have been supporting the organization, and appreciates the personal attachment and involvement they feel towards WFSS. She also appreciates how much impact there can be from a relatively small donation.
“You can help put in a well, and that affects so many people—especially the women who’ve been walking great distances to get water. There is an impact on hygiene, health, and safety for girls and women, who can possibly be educated when they’re no longer walking for water.”
While she respects all the areas in which WFSS works, for her, “it’s all about the water. It’s what the title of the organization suggests. Clean water is such a basic human need.”
Ann shared that she has mentioned Salva a few times, at her church and at work, and several times in response to a favorite icebreaker question, “who would you most like to have dinner with?” she mentions Salva, and is pleased that she was finally able to meet Salva in 2016.
“I admire Salva so much, returning to his country to help. For me, living in the US, with access to education and the ability to earn a living wage, makes me want to share and help others. I can’t imagine the obstacles he has faced. The more I learn about the country and its people, the more I want to help them and this is the way to do it.”
Thank you Ann and Brian, and all of our supporters who continue to help us help the people of South Sudan.
Water for South Sudan is so grateful to our many supporters, across the US, and around the world, who enable our life-saving work in South Sudan. We are especially thankful to those groups who commit to helping us year after year, and find a special connection to us through their work.
Once special group of super supporters is our friends in the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State (FGCNYS).
The Garden Clubs have raised over $144,000 for WFSS since 2010. They have sponsored seven new wells, and this year they also sponsored the rehabilitation of an older well.
Salva and WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly were able to meet some of our Garden Club members in New York City in March while Salva was in town for World Water Day events.
Lucille Bauer, State Chair for World Gardening, FGCNYS First Vice President was thrilled to meet Salva, and brought along Lyn Pezold, state recording secretary, District Director Graceann Morawek and fellow Castle Manor member Karen Maskuli.
"We're proud to sponsor Water for South Sudan as our World Gardening Project," said Lucille. "It was a pleasure to to meet Salva in New York. We are thrilled that we collected over $25,000 in 2016 for WFSS."
The Garden Clubs have consistently raised over $15,000 a year since 2010, and have been sponsoring wells since 2011.
"We are so grateful to our gardening club friends for choosing Water for South Sudan for their World Gardening Project," said WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly. "Their support, for so many years, has transformed thousands of lives in South Sudan."
FGCNYS's first well sponsorship came in 2011. This past year they had their highest fundraising totals ever, and donated to WFSS. These funds will sponsor another new well next drilling season. In addition, they were able to sponsor the rehabilitation of an older well this season.
This new pilot project, spurred by our 2015 well evaluation study, led to the creation of our well rehab team in 2017. To date this year the new rehab team has repaired the cement platforms of 26 of our oldest wells.
"Thanks to the support of FGCNYS, this repaired well will continue to produce clean water for years to come," said Malooly.
The Federated Garden Clubs of New York is a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc., the largest gardening organization in the world. The Federated Garden Clubs of New York State, Inc., was founded in 1924 and incorporated in 1930 for the purpose of supporting the Garden Clubs of New York State. The FGCNYS presently includes more than 250 garden clubs with 8105 members across the state.