Book Signing and Meet-n-Greet with Salva Dut

Saturday, October 12, 2019

3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Dove Library - Carlsbad City Library

1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, CA 92011

Join Salva Dut and WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly at the Dove Library for a meet-n-greet, book signing, and presentation. Copies of A Long Walk to Water will be available for purchase.

WFSS Young Professionals Kick-Off Event

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

We're excited to kick-off our new WFSS Young Professionals group with a visit from Founder and Senior Advisor Salva Dut.

Join us for networking and drink specials! Hear exciting updates from Salva and be a part of the future of an international organization.

RSVP is required as space is limited. We look forward to seeing you at Mullers Cider House!

Super Supporter of the Month: Michelle Hammond and Stephen Decatur Middle School

Fun with Mrs. Hammond in the classroom

Fun with Mrs. Hammond in the classroom

Water for South Sudan is pleased to highlight Michelle Hammond, the students and staff of Stephen Decatur Middle School, and their community for their outstanding support. Since 2017, they have raised over $33,000, enabling us to drill two new wells and deeply impacting lives in South Sudan.

We sat down with Michelle Hammond, a 7th grade teacher at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Maryland, to learn more about how she and her students have been inspired to support Water for South Sudan.

WFSS: How did you first get involved with WFSS?

MH: About three years ago we started implementing the state standards to bring more non-fiction into the curriculum. I connected with our social studies teacher and selected A Long Walk to Water to read with my class. The social studies teacher helps students to understand the geography of Africa while I focus on South Sudan. In science, the students learn about natural water filtration and why the aquifer is safer than ground water, as a great way to connect to the book.

I will never forget that first year reading the book. One of my students stood up and said, “We have to do something to help these people.” We found the WFSS website and set a goal to raise $2,000 at our first Water Walk. We had 350 kids participate the first year and I was blown away by how much money the kids were bringing in—they shared their ice cream money, birthday checks, and change—helping to raise over $8,800.

WFSS: What has surprised you most about WFSS over the years?

MH: I could not believe WFSS only had four full-time and one part-time staff members in the U.S. to help manage everything. They make it so easy to support this cause.

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

MH: I wish they knew how far the money goes. A donation of $15,000 will save hundreds of people from illness and help to provide schools and jobs.

There are always new ways to raise awareness and funds. This water well was created by Michelle’s son to collect change.

There are always new ways to raise awareness and funds. This water well was created by Michelle’s son to collect change.

WFSS: When talking to your friends and family about WFSS, what do you say?

MH: I spread the word by talking about the need for clean water and sharing the book. My niece is in college and must do a service project so I gave her the book. She now plans to host her own fundraiser this year.

I also believe that no matter your trade or job, you can help. My 28-year-old son is a mechanic and he made a well for the school kids out of old tires. Kids throw their change in the tire after lunch as an easy way to fundraise.

WFSS: What might someone be surprised to know about you?

MH: I’m an introvert and read books to recharge after school. I collect chickens on the side of the road and raise them with a good life.

In 2007, I was named Maryland Teacher of the Year. This is an in-depth process and you must be nominated at the school, district, and state level to win. I also submitted a portfolio about my teaching philosophy—both conventionally and unconventionally. I was given the option to take a year off of school to travel and give speeches, speak to state legislatures, and attend conventions for professional development. I met President Bush and won a car (Pontiac G6)—the first new car we ever owned. I traveled with other teachers and even attended space camp. Many teachers who win end up leaving for a higher-level position but I didn’t want to leave the classroom and my students.

WFSS: How would someone describe you?

MH: Quirky, driven, and always with my nose in a book.

We are so incredibly thankful to work with Michelle and be supported by the students and staff of Stephen Decatur Middle School, and supporters from their community. You are watering the seeds of change in South Sudan!

Livestream with Salva Dut and Linda Sue Park

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM EST

Monroe Community College

We invite you to tune in to this Livestream presentation by Salva Dut and author Linda Sue Park. They will discuss Salva's story as told in A Long Walk to Water, the work of Water for South Sudan, and more! Presented in conjunction with the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project, this presentation will be streamed live from Monroe Community College in Rochester.

Salva and Linda Sue will answer pre-screened questions during the presentation. If you would like to submit a question for a chance to have it featured, please email questions@waterforsouthsudan.org.

The Livestream recording will be available on YouTube for two weeks after the event.

Why We IGC: A story of international support from Sweden

Students surpass the IGC goal and show their dedication all the way from Sweden with a student-led community event!

 
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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!

 
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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!

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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.

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!

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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"Rooted in Rochester, Blooming in South Sudan" Celebration Brunch a Success

WFSS Founder and Senior Advisor Salva Dut traveled to the US for a whirlwind trip in November, visiting our headquarters in Rochester, and helping us celebrate the success of our Watering the Seeds of Change campaign. Boston photos, and a link to Salva's TEDx talk, will  be coming soon.

Rochester Celebration Photos

Smiles and hugs with Salva, dancers, awards, auctions and more at our Rochester Celebration.

Thanks to all who attended our "Rooted in Rochester, Blooming in South Sudan" Brunch in Rochester!  In addition to a wonderful celebration, including a special water dance entitled "Everyone's Delicious" by Present Tense Dance, and the WFSS Marketplace, we honored the seven original board members of WFSS:  Scott Arrington, John Bevier, Jim Blake, Nancy Frank, Robin Hill, Chris Moore and Nancy Reinert. They all received the inaugural Founder's Award.

We also presented our new Long Walk Award to Ben Dobbin, an AP Reporter who wrote the first national news story about Salva, and has traveled to South Sudan with WFSS twice, and his wife, Linda Sue Park, author of the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water, which has brought Salva's story to readers around the world.

Thanks to all the attendees, sponsors and volunteers who helped make the day so special.

Students Raise $35,000 to Benefit WFSS

port chester  middle school students present a check for $25,000 to wfss board member jack mckelvey (far right) as part of their lead2feed award.

port chester  middle school students present a check for $25,000 to wfss board member jack mckelvey (far right) as part of their lead2feed award.

Our student supporters across the US and around the world continue to amaze us with their passion, enthusiasm and results in raising funds for Water for South Sudan (WFSS).

One of the most recent outstanding efforts comes to us from Port Chester, NY where students at Port Chester Middle School helped raise $35,000 for WFSS.

Inspired by A Long Walk to Water, the New York Times bestseller by Linda Sue Park, the students raised $10,000 in 10 weeks and also won a grand prize in the national Lead2Feed Challenge, an annual contest sponsored by Lead2Feed. The award brought another $25,000 to donate to WFSS, for a total of $35,000 which will fund two full water wells to be named for Port Chester Middle School. Lead2Feed is a leadership program that nurtures a new generation of leaders while working to end hunger or meet another need in their communities.

Students in Allison Silverman’s eight grade leadership classes came up with the project, as part of the annual Lead2Feed Challenge, after reading A Long Walk to Water, which is required for all seventh graders in New York State. They decided to develop a project to help fight the global water crisis. Naming their project PC Hydration Nation they set out to encourage every student in the school to donate $10 over a span of two and a half months.

About 2,400 schools submitted projects to the challenge, which required them to go through three rounds of judges . Port Chester Middle School was named one of six grand prize winners, earning them $25,000 to be donated to the nonprofit of their choice (WFSS), as well as $10,000 worth of technology—they chose iPads—to the middle school.

Teacher Allison Silverman noted that her students went far beyond what she had expected. “This was one of the greatest accomplishments of my career,” she said.

Read more about Port Chester’s award and the Lead2Feed Challenge here.

A Conversation with Salva and Linda Sue March 18

Join us for a livestream presentation, A Conversation with Salva and Linda Sue on Friday, March 18 at 12 noon, EST. 

WFSS Founder Salva Dut and Newbery Award-winning author Linda Sue Park will talk about the story behind A Long Walk to Water and the success of WFSS in bringing access to water in South Sudan.

The talk is available to all, but you must pre-register to get the link for the talk.   Please send an email with your name, and, if applicable, your school's name and address to SalvaLindaSue@waterforsouthsudan.org.  You will need an internet connection and access to YouTube to watch the talk.