August 25, 2015

You Are Not Too Young to Change Your Nation: Obama’s Project to Empower Women

By Vanesa Martin



Just a pinch of sound logic is enough to realize that denying educational opportunities, justice, and equal rights to women oppresses approximately half of the world’s population. The oppression of women misuses the scarce resource that is human brainpower and vastly inhibits the possibility of prosperity for many developing nations. It’s an equation that does not add up. On the noble quest to end global poverty, we are casting aside the very individuals that experience it and could be empowered to contribute meaningfully to the solution.
 
It has taken the global community a frustratingly long time to admit this fact, and it has taken even longer—in fact, it is still a rough work in progress—to take action with respect to the empowerment of women. Recently, President Obama addressed this very fact in a region where the discrepancy between the treatment of males and females is substantial - Africa.

During his four-day trip to East Africa, President Obama declared that Tanzania and Malawi have joined the Let the Girls Learn movement to encourage and facilitate the school attendance for adolescent girls. The movement helps to identify key barriers keeping girls from completing their education and subsequently tackle them more effectively.

Tanzania and Malawi have joined with nine other African nations to participate in the DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) partnership, where $210 million has been allocated for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the advancement of girls’ education and health.

Hopefully, with DREAMS, PEPFAR, and Let Girls Learn, the situation will change quickly. Hopefully, young people will be given the opportunities to prosper and play an important role in affecting change across the nation.

I saw the drastic need for change when I recently fulfilled my life-long dream to visit sub-Saharan Africa. On my volunteer trip to Tanzania, I was astounded by the differences between that nation and ours. Not only was the language, the culture, the currency, the weather, and the natural landscape completely different, but so was the attitude towards women.

My co-volunteers and I gave 3-4 hour lessons of English to native Swahili speakers every morning for a few weeks, and we were surprised by the demographic of the students who came to class. There were always boys and men of every age, ranging from young toddlers to grown men learning English for their businesses. In the weeks that I taught, there was only ever one woman who attended these classes. 

When I asked, I was told that indeed, girls did attend school, but they were usually not allowed to attend the tutoring lessons over the summer or they did not have the time to spare. While I was relieved to hear that female school attendance was good, I was frustrated by the fact that these young men could receive further educational support but their female counterparts could not. It is with this newfound knowledge that I proudly applaud efforts to raise awareness and take action for the empowerment of girls through education and health.

Niger is not yet involved with any of these movements, but it is more than likely that positive results generated by these ongoing rallies in other African nations will encourage their implementation across the continent. For now, Wells Bring Hope continues to empower women by providing them with the tools they need to start their own business, generate income for their families, and begin to alleviate the extreme poverty that plagues Niger. Join us at WBH by volunteering or starting a Water Circle today!
 

August 17, 2015

Education and Girls in Niger

By Rania Mikhael

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.  – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela defined education as a weapon that can change the world; education is the most important way to measure civilization and the progress of nations. 

Education is the raw material that helps people to gain a greater understanding of their own talents and unique abilities, and how to use them to the fullest. It also provides people with new skills that will have a definite impact on their future.

When children have access to at least a basic education, a new era is born, one that reduces poverty, brings new opportunities, fosters personal empowerment, and brings about improved health conditions.

The absence of education means a slow death for society and can result in inequality, poverty, and literal starvation. The people of Niger, the poorest country in the world, struggle each day to obtain the basic elements, food and water. Because they must work so hard to secure these most basic needs, education often falls by the wayside. This is particularly true for the girls in Niger, as they are the ones responsible for walking miles every day in search of water. 

Below table shows the Niger Education Stats as per UNESCO

STAT AMOUNT DATE

RANK

Adult Literacy Rate > Total 28.67 2005       14th Out of 15 
Average Years of Schooling of Adults 1 2000 98th Out of 100
Children Out of School, Primary 1.05 million 2012 3rd Out of 64
Children Out of School, Primary per 1000 61.12 2012 2nd Out of 64
Children Out of School, Primary, Female 593,905 2012 3rd Out of 55
College and University > Share of Total Education Spending 14.37% 2011 38th Out of 60
Compulsary Education Duration 9 2012 55th Out of 109
Literacy > Total 'population 28.7% 2005 11th Out of 11
Primary Education, Duration > Years 6 2012 47th Out of 200  
Primary Education, Teachers Per 1000 3.08 2012 62nd Out of 76
Secondary Education, Duration > Years 7 2012 35th Out of 197

 

That’s where we come in. Wells Bring Hope is committed to supplying clean water to rural villages all over the Niger. When a well is drilled, girls no longer have to help their mothers get water and their time is freed up to go to school. Given access to an education, the boys and girls will thrive and may just go on to change the world for themselves.

Get involved by volunteering or starting a Water Circle today.

August 14, 2015

Wild Horses

By Caleb Gossett

Source: James Marvin Phelps

This is my first time writing a blog for Wells Bring Hope, having been a volunteer doing online research this summer before I go back to college. Recently I did some work with another organization that works to save wild horses. Although they are two very different organizations, the work that they do is more alike than different. Working with the horses helped to open my eyes to the severe conditions Wells Bring Hope is trying to alleviate.

When I was first approached about helping lead a youth expedition to assist in saving wild horses in the desert of Nevada, I was a bit bewildered. My first thought was: Are they serious? Are there even wild horses in Nevada? So I asked that very question.“Yeah, of course there are! We’ll be traveling just outside of Eureka, Nevada to an HMA.”

Eureka, Nevada? HMA? What are they talking about? I was way out of my depth. So I did some reading, asked some questions and I learned about the challenges facing supporters of wild horse preservation – a conflict that I had never even heard of, prior to this expedition.  HMA is a Herd Management Area, basically an area of land for cattle that is regulated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

What I learned from this as I journeyed into the sparsely populated (Population:  610), scalding hot desert (100 degrees every day), is that horses can survive in some pretty extreme heat. While I haven’t been there to experience it firsthand, I know that the people of Niger live and work in the same brutal climate, with sandstorms sometimes making life even harder.

I also learned that the horses are brutally mistreated, underfed, and are not getting enough water.  And, although the drought currently affecting the West Coast is partially at fault, much of the blame lies with people.

Essentially, it’s a conflict between the ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The ranchers want to use the BLM land so that they can graze their cattle less expensively and for more months per year.

What do you do with the horses you might ask? Good question! You kill them, according to the ranchers. From their perspective, horses don’t really DO anything. They’re just there.

But they are living creatures. And if you have ever had the pleasure of meeting a horse, you know that they’re something special--majestic, gentle, half-ton animals, you can’t help but get attached.

Having been moved by the suffering of horses, I became more in touch with the pain of the people of Niger who have no safe water, whose children die from contaminated water far too often.  They’re suffering in ways far greater than the horses of Eureka, Nevada.  They’re people like you and me and they need our help. Clean water is an integral part of survival and the wells that Wells Bring Hope provides are helping to save lives and bring happiness to so many people.

August 10, 2015

Cassie’s Walk for Hope Fundraiser

 

 

Cassie Ballard is an example of Wells Bring Hope’s mantra: Inspiration, Commitment, Hope. On a very deep level, Cassie was seeking meaning for the arduous walk she planned to undertake. She was inspired to support Wells Bring Hope when she found out about the serious water crisis in West Africa and was especially moved by learning what women and girls must endure every day to get water. Her decision to raise money to fund a water well, fulfilled her search. Cassie started a Water Circle and asked everyone she knew to help her raise money and awareness of this cause. That was her commitment and one that she is fulfilling as a Water Warrior for Wells Bring Hope.

As part of her comittment to fundraising for Wells Bring Hope, Cassie hosted an incredible event last month.  Held at the Woodman in Sherman Oaks on July 29th, guests enjoyed a scrumptious array of food out on the patio and danced the night away to the smooth jazz tunes of Showmance who played classics by all the jazz greats.  Thank you to everyone who came out to share this wonderful evening with Cassie and Wells Bring Hope. Special thanks to Rose Schneider who planned and organized the event, put together a lovely silent auction and sold lots of raffle tickets, even to those who weren’t there for Cassie’s event!  Everyone got swept away by the excitement of learning about Cassie’s walk and the work of Wells Bring Hope.

A note from Cassie:

As I enter "crunch time" right before my big 100 mile trek, I feel the need to stop and thank each and every person, friend, family member, and stranger for helping my vision become fully realized.
When I set out to hike the Wonderland Trail to raise money for one well in Niger, I didn't fully grasp what I was getting into. While I understood the physical and mental obstacles I would face on the trail and the many days training before, I didn't prepare myself for the feat of putting together an entire benefit and rallying people from all over the country to give to Wells Bring Hope. As challenging as it was, the evening of our event offered a  ten-fold reward because we raised enough money to save the lives of over 100 children.  The overwhelming feeling of CHANGE that we were able to bring about in a moment is one without words. I prepared for the physicality of my trek but not for the uplifting and satisfying HOPE I experienced through working with WBH.

Thank you, all of you. Because of you this hike has meaning. Because of you, I get the honor of making a difference in our world. Because of you, I am a better person. So here's to a crazy, life changing eight days ahead of me! Remember, my voice is louder than theirs, but their walk is bigger than mine.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to all the generous people at the event, Cassie is halfway to her goal of funding a well! Help her get the rest of the way there by donating to her Water Circle!

August 6, 2015

Distance

By Nick Baldry

It must be said that distance is a funny old thing. What we perceive as distant can vary by such great degrees that at times it can get a little ridiculous.

 


For example, a couple of weeks ago humanity reached one of its farthest points from home as the New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Pluto snapping photographs of the dwarf planet like an over eager tourist. That is a distance of roughly 71 million miles covered by our species in the name of exploration. At the same time, on a hot summer's day, when I appear to have welded myself to the sofa in front of a baseball game or bad movie, the distance between myself and the fridge can seem insurmountable. Hiking through the foothills of my sitting room and traversing the barren wasteland that is my kitchen becomes an 'epic' journey of about 10 feet.

When you consider a journey of 71 million miles to the outer reaches of space and in the next breath one of 10 feet to the inner reaches of a mid-range Kenmore refrigerator and can say "wow, that seems so far" to both, it is safe to say we human beings have a difficult time getting a solid perspective on what is actually distant from us. 

It is easy for Niger and its people to seem distant.

  • There are 7,318.82 miles separating me from my counterpart in Niamey for a start. But that is way too simple a measure. In some senses, the distance between someone like myself in the US and someone in Niger is far greater than that. Economically we are worlds apart.
  • GDP per capita in the US in 2007 was $128,620.23, in Niger $39,399.87.
  • In education we are worlds apart. The US has a 99% literacy rate compared to 28.7% in Niger (and only 15.1% for girls).

Frankly, I could go on explaining how a reader in the west and one in Niger  live lives so far apart that there appears to be an insurmountable amount of distance, real and metaphorical, between us and them.

But I won't.

I want to think about how close we are.

We are all parents, children, employers, employees, friends, family, teachers, students. It doesn't matter that there are 7,318.82 miles between us. We have the same relationships and we have the same aspirations. We all want a better life for ourselves and our loved ones. These relationships and dreams are universal. No matter whether you are in a village in Niger or a suburb of Los Angeles, your daily struggle is all so that your children can live better lives than you did. Even though the struggles are remarkably different, we all have the same aim, to better our lots in life. That is something we have in common, a closeness that we share.

Donating to and volunteering with Wells Bring Hope allows us to help someone make their life better. It is a chance for you to reach over thousands of miles and pull someone closer to you by helping them with our common goal. To live a better life. The work they do achieves remarkable change in people's lives, I implore you to help them continue to do that today.

Get involved by volunteering or starting a Water Circle today.

July 29, 2015

What Your Donations Bring

By Alix Wachendorf

Recently, several stories have appeared in the press that mentioned charities and their dishonest fundraising efforts. One such story, released by ABC news, reported that a leukemia charity used less than one percent of its donations on its patients or programs.

We are very proud to say that 100% of all of your donations go directly to drilling wells, educating villagers on proper sanitation and hygiene, and providing women with microfinance training.. Niger is still the world’s poorest country and is only able to provide about ten percent of the wells its people need. With matched funds and additional, long-term support provided by our partner World Vision, each donation is multiplied 5 times.

Drilling a Well is a Complex and Costly Process

Along with World Vision, we work with highly trained and experienced local water engineers who drill the wells and tap into underground aquifers in Niger. Because water from underground aquifers is usually found as deep as 250-300 feet below ground, it takes heavy-duty machinery and several days to access it. Water samples must be sent to a lab to ensure safety and once approved, workers are able to install the equipment required to render the well operational.

Donations allow us to ensure sustainability

We are the only U.S.-based safe water foundation that works with each village for 15+ years beyond well drilling. This enables us to:

  • Instill good health habits and put practices in place that allow children to grow into their responsibilities as adults, which results in long lasting and generational change.
  • Involve village residents in maintaining the well, contribute to a repair fund, and learn to make repairs.
  • Teach villagers how to use drip farming techniques with their newly established supply of safe water. This results healthier diets and allows those with additional crops to sell them at the local market.

Wells Bring Hope ensures that all of our donations go to helping the people in the villages of Niger by providing access to safe water and sanitation. We are able to do this by keeping our overhead very low. We are a primarily volunteer-run organization with just one paid employee. All of our operating expenses are underwritten by our corporate partner Panda Restaurant Group, which enables us to direct 100% of every donor dollar to a well project.

Get involved by volunteering or starting a Water Circle today.

July 22, 2015

Annual Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue

We were surprised by an unusual summer storm, but the rain could not dampen the spirits of the volunteers and supporters who gathered at the home of WBH Founder and President Barbara Goldberg for the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue. Weather for the event started off warm and clear, but halfway through the skies darkened, and rain sent everyone scurrying. The team immediately rallied together to move the whole party inside in record time, and everyone quickly resumed eating, drinking, and enjoying each other's company inside Barbara's lovely home.

After everyone had a chance to fill their plates with barbecued chicken and salads, Barbara stood to thank all of the volunteers for their time and effort and to congratulate them on all they have done to help Wells Bring Hope achieve the incredible feat of funding 343 wells since 2008. Barbara also announced that, in response to the increasingly incidence of drought and famine in Niger, Wells Bring Hope has set the ambitious goal of drilling an additional 250 wells in the next three years. Finally, Barbara spoke briefly about the recent trip to Niger and welcomed special guests Sam Jackson and Kim Lorenz, both from our partner World Vision.

Next, Director of Operations Kate Cusimano announced the winners of the Volunteer of the Year Award. Rebecca Cover, Director of the Grant Team, and Norma Gutierrez, Social Media Team Manager, were the incredibly deserving recipients. Unfortunately, as both women live out of state, neither could accept her award in person, but we celebrated their accomplishments.

Finally, Director of Volunteer Management Ida Harding rose to praise the hard work of our incredible volunteer team. At any one time, there are roughly 50 active volunteers scattered across the country, and Wells Bring Hope could not fulfill its mission of saving lives with safe water without their dedication and support.

Special thanks to Helen Hasenfeld who took these terrific photos. What a photogenic group!

July 17, 2015

No Pain No Gain

By Rania Mikhael

It’s a short phrase with a sophisticated meaning. It impliesthat that suffering is necessary in order to achieve something. We use this expression to encourage ourselves to work harder, to lose weight, or to achieve a new goal. We have the luxury of choosing to suffer and sacrifice in pursuit of our dreams, in pursuit of a better future.

People in developing countries, such as Niger, don’t have the luxury of that choice. Struggle and strife are a part of their daily lives. Their fight is not for a slimmer waist line or a faster marathon time. Their fight is for the basic human rights that we take for granted – water, sanitation, education.

Niger is the poorest country in the world where contaminated water kills innocent victims every day. It’s the infants and young children who suffer the most. People from industrialized parts of the world are disconnected from what happens in Africa.
Here are some facts that may surprise you:

• 780 million people live without clean drinking water.
• 2.5 billion people – including almost one billion children – live without basic sanitation.
• More people in the world have access to a cell phone than have access to a toilet.
• 80 percent of all sickness and disease worldwide is related to contaminated water, according to the World Health Organization.
• More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world.

"It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding." - Kahlil Gibran
Wells Bring Hope is committed to giving; we are committed to drilling wells to bring safe water and sanitation to rural villages in Niger. We are an organization with a vision for a better tomorrow.

We invite you to help us bring hope to Niger. Be part of a compassionate group of people whose aim is to bring a better tomorrow to those who endure the unimaginable pain of having to give contaminated water to their children.

Get involved by volunteering or starting a Water Circle today.

June 10, 2015

Million Dollar Round Table Foundation Grant

Through its charitable giving, the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table Foundation aims to build stronger families and communities around the globe. WBH supporter Judd Swarzman is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, and on Wednesday, June 3rd , he and his wife Linda presented Wells Bring Hope with a $5,000 grant from the MDRT Foundation.

This grant, along with $600 in donations from other donors, will supply a rural village in Niger, West Africa with the life-saving gift of a safe-water well. We are incredibly grateful to the MDRT Foundation for the incredible work that they are doing around the globe.

We are very grateful to both Linda and Judd for initiating this grant and advocating for it. They have been loyal supporters of our cause and we greatly appreciate their support. We are proud to be the recipients of this grant.

June 4, 2015

First Annual Donor Appreciation Event

On the evening of Wednesday, June 3rd, the clouds parted and the sun appeared just in time for Wells Bring Hope’s First Annual Donor Appreciation Event. About fifty of Wells Bring Hope’s most enthusiastic supporters braved rush hour traffic to join us for dinner in Culver City. Ed Keebler, WBH’s newest board member, and his partner, Anne Dalton, generously hosted the evening at their fabulous restaurant – Bucato.

It was a time for mingling on the outdoor patio over wine, meeting other WBH committed donors and volunteers who shared the same appreciation for our work.

Guests enjoyed a four-course feast that began with home baked bread and olives that some of us couldn’t stop eating! Dinner also included two scrumptious pastas that Bucato makes in house and juicy Jidori chicken with kale.

A short video was shown based on a recent WBH team trip to Niger, revealing the enormous success of our economic development program for women.  On a sad note, Founder, Barbara Goldberg revealed that the cycle of drought and famine is now almost a yearly occurrence, resulting in a more urgent need for clean water.  To address this, WBH has set an ambitious goal of drilling 250 wells in the next three years.

The evening ended with the presentation of a $5,000 grant from the Million Dollar Round Table by Linda and Judd Swarzman. Thank you to all of our generous supporters and Nichole Carlson, our marvelous Director of Special Events, for making the evening such a success!

 

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