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!

Salva Dut on Connections with Evan Dawson on WXXI Rochester, NY

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Water for South Sudan Founder and Senior Advisor Salva Dut, and Executive Director Lynn Malooly, were both featured as guests on Connections with Evan Dawson, on WXXI, Rochester, NY's NPR station. The show aired on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. You can listen to a recording of the live show here.

Salva was invited by Evan to share his story of walking out of Sudan as an 11 year old boy when war broke out in Southern Sudan in 1985. Salva recounts his story as a young boy forced to walk hundreds of miles, and then his subsequent experiences in two different refugee camps. Salva came to the United States after 10 years of living in refugee camps and walking. He was moved to Rochester, NY in 1996.

Here's a sampling of some of the questions in the interview:

Evan: Did you ever think you would talk to family again? Did you have anyone you were close to that you thought you would have contact with?

Salva: First, there were people that I knew when I was in the first camp in Kenya, before they moved us to another camp in Ethiopia. At that time, most people that I knew were grown up people and they went back to fight in Sudan. I left with people I didn't know. The boys I left with were acquaintances, and they became my family.

Evan: So here in Rochester, what did you find?

Salva: When I came to Rochester, it was in February. In refugee camps, we didn't really understand what snow meant--we thought it was just something foggy. . . . So when I saw the powdery stuff coming from the sky, I sat at the window for an hour and just watching this thing falling from the sky. . . . It was really a challenge to see this different climate completely. ... I will never get used to it.

Evan: Once you got into the rhythm of life and you felt more comfortable here, what was it like to see Americans complain about things like this store doesn't have milk today, or I have to drive 5 miles to this store to get this brand?

Salva: It feels really funny--I couldn't believe that you would have such thinking to ignore the rest and look for other things so far away. When I went to Wegmans, I would just want to get whatever I could get. What happened was that my sponsor said, "Salva, don't get that, it's junk food" and I said, "what are you talking about? What do you mean by junk food? I need it," and I grabbed it because I did not understand what the difference was."

Listen to the full interview.

 

New York State Federated Garden Clubs Help Water the Seeds of Change in South Sudan

Lucille Bauer, left, and Lyn Pezold, of NYS Federated Garden Clubs with Salva in NYC.

Lucille Bauer, left, and Lyn Pezold, of NYS Federated Garden Clubs with Salva in NYC.

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.

 

Celebrating World Water Day!

Just Water, Drilling Updates, and Events in NYC & NJ

Water for South Sudan joins the world in recognizing the need for clean water for all people.

March 22 marks the annual celebration of World Water Day. WFSS is celebrating with an initiative called "Just Water" to raise awareness of the many needs that water fills, and how access to clean water is an inalienable human right.

Please consider supporting this initiative by learning more about the impacts of clean water on the people of South Sudan, and by sharing this information with others. Please also consider donating to our campaign for World Water Week. 

 

WFSS fully supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our work in South Sudan underscores the importance of SDG Goal #6, which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The UN notes that water and sanitation are at the core of sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet. Goal 6 not only addresses issues relating to drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources.

SALVA DUT, lYNN MALOOLY, AND WILL KENNEDY AT THE UN IN NEW YORK CITY.

SALVA DUT, lYNN MALOOLY, AND WILL KENNEDY AT THE UN IN NEW YORK CITY.

Salva in D.C., NJ, and NYC

WFSS Founder Salva Dut and Executive Director Lynn Malooly were in D.C. earlier this week for a congressional panel on WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) and Agriculture. The rest of the week they will be in New York City and New Jersey for meetings, interviews, and special events. Please check our upcoming events page for more information on meeting them and hearing more about our work.

Work Continues in South Sudan

The WFSS teams are continuing their work in South Sudan, bringing access to clean water and hygiene education to those in need. Our 2017 season has been ongoing. Unrest in South Sudan, and famine being declared in parts of the country, only underscores the importance of our work, and of our grassroots efforts for development in the world's newest country.

THE FIRST WELL DRILLED OF THE 2016-17 SEASON.

THE FIRST WELL DRILLED OF THE 2016-17 SEASON.

As of March 21, the WFSS Drilling Team has completed 10 new wells. This year the drilling team is focusing on drilling wells in school areas.

The WFSS Rehab Team, a new pilot program this year, has completed the rehabilitation of 14 of our oldest wells. Our 2015 well evaluation project showed us that some of the oldest wells needed to have the cement platforms surrounding the wells repaired. The new rehab team has set out to repair these wells to our updated design specifications. WFSS is now using a stronger cement mixture for all well platforms, and has also lengthened the channel leading from the pumps down to the drinking pools for animals.

a rehabbed well with updated design.

a rehabbed well with updated design.

This year we have two hygiene education teams in the field, traveling with both drilling and rehab teams, where they work with villagers to identify hygiene practices in need of improvement.

Although the news out of South Sudan continues to show the struggles of the new nation, WFSS has been able to continue our operations. We are in regular contact with our teams who report that they are safe, and able to travel and continue regular operations.

Thank you to all of our supporters around the world who enable our work. 

We will continue to update you on the progress of this season. Please check back here for regular updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sign up for the WFSS email news here.

Watch Salva Dut's Inspiring TEDx Talk!

WFSS Founder Salva Dut gave a moving and inspirational talk at TEDxBeaconStreet in Boston. I Kept Walking tells the true story of Salva's journey as one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, and how his faith, hope and perseverance helped him achieve his goals.

Please watch and share!

Salva's Boston Travels

WFSS Founder Salva Dut presented at TEDxBeaconStreet on Saturday, Nov 19, where he shared his journey as one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. Salva's inspiring and moving TEDx talk is available here.

Thanks to Boston-area WFSS Board member Anne Turner, he was also able to visit a number of schools, including three middle schools who had sponsored wells (Pentucket, Rupert Nock, and Concord (Peabody and Sanborn), and attend a teen event in Brookline. 

In addition, WFSS hosted Celebrate with Salva at the Waterworks Museum on Nov. 17. Supporters came from all over the Boston area; a few "super supporters" traveled much farther, including some teachers from Plattsburgh, NY, but the prize went to Gladys Mouton and her son Stephen who drove 26 hours from Louisiana to meet Salva, their hero!

Watch Salva's moving and inspiring TEDx talk.

Watch Salva's inspiring TEDx talk, where he tells of his journey as a "Lost Boy" of Sudan.

School Visits in Boston

Thanks for the warm welcome from Pentucket & Rupert Nock Middle Schools, Mario Umana School, Beacon Academy, and Concord Middle School (Peabody & Sanborn). 

Thanks to all who came out to meet Salva and WFSS! Salva lives in Africa now, and only travels to the US about twice a year. Schools around the world do have the opportunity to win a visit with Salva through our Iron Giraffe Challenge. Each school year WFSS challenges schools to raise at least $1,000 for WFSS. Schools who complete the challenge by the deadline are then entered into a drawing to win a visit from Salva. Details available here. 2017 pledge forms due Feb. 15. All funds are due March 31, 2017.

 

Waterworks Museum Celebration

We had a wonderful time at the lovely Metropolitan Waterworks Museum in Boston. We met many supporters, including a number of teachers and students. Salva shared his story and was able to visit with many attendees, who were also able to visit the impressive displays of early municipal water systems.

TEDxBeaconStreet and Brookline Teen Center

Salva shared his story of hope and perseverance at TEDxBeaconStreet on Nov. 19, 2016. Watch his talk here. Thank you to the Brookline Teen Center for hosting our final event in Boston, where Salva again told of his journey as a "Walking Boy." We enjoyed meeting so many enthusiastic supporters, many of whom had read the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water, by award-winning author Linda Sue Park.

Salva is now back home in Africa, helping the WFSS teams prepare for our upcoming season. Thanks to supporters in Boston, across the US, and around the world, WFSS will continue to transform lives in South Sudan. Stay in touch with WFSS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for our email newsletter here. Please share our story and help us do even more.

Celebrate in Rochester & Boston with Salva this November!

WFSS Founder Salva Dut will travel to the US in November for a few special events with supporters in Rochester, NY and Boston.

Salva starts his visit with Linda Sue Park at the Rochester Children's Book Festival on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Monroe Community College. The festival's 20th anniversary will honor New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water by Newbery Award-winning author Linda Sue Park. The festival's theme is Books Change Readers, Readers Change the World. More information available here.

Rooted in Rochester, Blooming in South SudanWFSS Celebration Brunch Sunday, Nov. 13. Join Salva and WFSS at the beautiful ARTISANworks in Rochester, NY as we celebrate the closing of our capital campaign. Meet Salva and hear updates from South Sudan. There will be a live auction of artwork, African handcrafts and WFSS photos and art for sale, and more. Information and tickets available here

Meet Salva & WFSS in Boston!  WFSS will host a special celebration at Boston's Metropolitan Waterworks Museum on Thursday, Nov. 17, starting with a VIP Reception from 6-7 p.m., followed by a Celebration from 7-8:30 p.m. Meet Salva and get updates on our work in South Sudan. More information, tickets and registration available here.

Finally, on Saturday, Nov. 19, Salva will speak at TEDxBeaconStreet, followed by a special teen event in Brookline. Watch the TEDx talk, or register to attend at TEDxBeaconStreet website.

A Conversation with Salva and Linda Sue Livestream Presentation a Success!

A Conversation with Salva and Linda Sue livestream presentation on Friday, March 18th was a resounding success! 272 schools from around the world, via Youtube, watched Salva Dut and Linda Sue Park discuss Water for South Sudan’s impact on South Sudan and how WFSS is bringing access to clean water and hygiene education in the world's newest country.

Linda Sue Park is the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Walk to Water, which is about Salva’s journey as a Lost Boy through Sub-Saharan Africa to America. Salva Dut is the Founder and Executive Director for East African Operations of WFSS. Together they answered students’ questions about the impact of A Long Walk to Water on WFSS, how WFSS drills and maintains wells, and what lessons Salva and Linda Sue could teach the students about how to become better global citizens.

About 350 people came to Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, NY to attend the presentation. This group included three Greater Rochester area schools: Spry Middle School in Webster, Watkins Glen Middle School, and Oliver Middle School in Brockport. In addition, Avon Middle School, which won MCC’s Walk for Water challenge in the fall of 2015,, got to spend one-on-one time with Salva and Linda Sue before the livestream presentation.

The livestream presentation was hosted by MCC’s Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project. MCC's strong alliance with WFSS includes significant fundraising through their annual Walk for Water challenge and other efforts that have totaled more than $50,000 since 2007. Salva is also an MCC alumni and member of the MCC Hall of Fame.

Thank you to our hosts at MCC for making this world-wide event possible, and to all who participated in our livestream presentation! You are helping WFSS make a big difference. You may watch the livestream presentation here.

 

 

Lost Boy Finds Water in South Sudan

Journalist Ben Dobbin traveled to South Sudan in February of 2015 to follow the progress of Water for South Sudan. His account appeared in the Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle on June 1, 2015, and USA Today on June 2, 2015.

Women carrying water in South Sudan. Photo by Ben Dobbin.

Women carrying water in South Sudan. Photo by Ben Dobbin.

Dobbin reports on the success of WFSS, which has now drilled 257 wells in remote villages in South Sudan since 2005. Founded by former "Lost Boy" of Sudan, Salva Dut, WFSS is based in Rochester, New York, USA, but has an operations center, and full-time South Sudanese management team in South Sudan.

The article notes the incredible impact of clean water in South Sudan.

From bathing, cooking and drinking safely to growing a vegetable plot or building a traditional mud-hut tukel, having clean water at hand is a "step up for people who really need it," adds Dut. "Give them a lift and somehow they push on and help themselves."

Read  the full article here.

WFSS Team Drills 250th Well

MCC well 2015

Water for South Sudan is pleased to announce that our drilling team has recently completed our 250th well. 

WFSS has been bringing access to fresh water in South Sudan since 2005. We have come a long way since our inaugural season in 2005, when seven wells were drilled, including the very first well, drilled in Founder Salva Dut's village. Salva was inspired by his father, who was gravely ill from waterborne disease, to provide clean water in his homeland.

Kids

Each well that is drilled transforms the lives of the villagers for whom it is drilled. A nearby source of potable water means women and girls do not have to walk miles for water that is often dirty or contaminated. Fresh water means all villagers are healthier, particularly children. Diarrhea caused by poor sanitation, lack of hygiene, and unsafe drinking water, is the second leading cause of child death globally, and the leading cause of child death in sub-Saharan Africa.

WFSS, led by Salva Dut, a former "Lost Boy" of Sudan, continues to provide access to clean water, and hygiene education in remote villages in South Sudan. Salva is joined by Director of Field Operations Ater "Lion" Thiep, and Assistant Field Operations Supervisor Ajang "AJ" Agok, and supported by a drilling team and operations center staff in South Sudan. Working in the newest nation in the world presents constant challenges, but WFSS, through the tireless efforts of its South Sudan drilling team,  has been able to drill wells for the last 10 years.

“I am so thankful to all the people who have supported me to be able to help the people of South Sudan,” says Dut. “I started this as a small project to help my father’s village, and now we are helping hundreds of thousands of people with over 250 wells drilled. I am sure there are children who would have died if they did not have the clean water that WFSS has provided since 2005.”

 The need for clean water in South Sudan remains great. As the 2014-15 comes to a close, with the start of the rainy season in South Sudan, plans are already underway for the next season's drilling, set to begin in December. WFSS is supported by donors in all 50 US states and 24 other countries.