Teen Volunteerism

by Kevin Shi

Being a teenager is horrible in a lot of ways. It’s a point of your life when all of the pressures of adulthood are conferred upon you, without any of the merits. You’re starting to develop real opinions for the first time while every tiny drama turns into the greatest tragedy in human history because your body is slowly eating itself with hormones. But it’s also a point when you have the energy to sleep three hours a night and still have enough juice to whine about it the next morning. It’s a point when you can do absolutely crazy things for no reason whatsoever. It’s a point where you can spend all that energy writing bad poetry, partying ’til the break of dawn or, if you really want to, making a difference for the first time in your life.

All the same, there’s nothing quite so privileged as a suburban, middle-class lifestyle, and teens from these backgrounds do their best to spread the wealth in whatever way they can. In a way, they receive as much as they give. For the first time in their lives, teenagers have the power to define themselves through their actions, and they do so in a number of ways. Some choose to aid the sick; others, the elderly; and others, the young. By doing what they can to help, teens find out exactly what it is that they can do, and that sense of personal identity is more precious to them than anything else.

For me, I chose to volunteer for Wells Bring Hope for two reasons. The first was to reach out into the world. I had spent my whole life inside of a sleepy little town called Thousand Oaks and I wanted to see what else was out there. Stepping down from my comfortable little pedestal, I saw that there were millions of people in West Africa who would do well to have a fraction of what I have, people who need something as simple as clean water. The second reason was because Wells Bring Hope let me contribute in the one way I knew best: with my writing. Writing for a cause is as important, if not more even more valuable, than writing for a living, and volunteering is a stepping stone to see if this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.

Some leap into the process thinking, “I’m going to save the lives of one million babies!” and are quickly disillusioned. Others profess more selfish reasons; once they hit the magical number of community service hours needed for college, they’re going to drop their shovels and move on. But volunteering is more than that. It comes to a point when there are no ulterior motives, just the act itself and the love of it.

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Mapping the Aquifers of Africa

by Barbara Goldberg

{celebration following the drilling of a well}

The media, including the New York Times in a June 17th article, has picked up on a very comprehensive report mapping groundwater resources in Africa. Based on two years of study led by the British Geological Survey, this is the first quantitative continent-wide mapping of aquifer storage and potential borehole well yields from an extensive review of available maps, publications and data. (An aquifer is defined as water-bearing porous soil or rock strata that yield significant amounts of water to wells.) Maps have been generated pinpointing the locations of aquifers by country and region.

A key conclusion: For a continent where more than 300 million people lack access to safe drinking water, Africa is sitting on a lot of it. The researchers estimate that Africa's groundwater totals about 0.66 million cubic kilometers, which means the continent has over 100 times more water underground than on the surface.

However, groundwater resources are unevenly distributed: the largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan. The good news for Wells Bring Hope: Niger, the country where we drill, ranks seventh highest in available groundwater resources out of 49 African countries.

That plentiful supply has contributed to the high success rate we have had in our main drilling area of Niger, Maradi, last year. We’re proud to report that last year 100% of all attempted wells were successful, all wet wells. This is also due to the high level of professionalism of our partner, World Vision’s drilling team. We are grateful to be working in an area where aquifers are plentiful, where our efforts to provide safe water to the most rural areas of Niger have been productive.

Facebook and Twitter Campaign

From now until the end of July, you can help Wells Bring Hope drill another well in Niger by spreading the word about us on Facebook and Twitter. An anonymous donor has generously offered to contribute $3 for every person who “likes” us on Facebook or follows us on Twitter (and $6 for those who do both), up to $4,500.

The simple gesture of adding Wells Bring Hope to your social network will help to transform the lives of villagers in rural Niger. When a well is drilled, The child mortality rate is reduced by up to 65%child mortality is reduced by up to 65%, and women and girls no longer have to walk miles to retrieve contaminated water. This means that girls are free to attend school, and with the micro loans we provide, women can build small businesses and generate income for their families. Access to clean water should not be a struggle. Please help us improve lives by giving people one of life’s most basic needs: clean water.

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Niger Feels the Strain of Refugees

by Kate Cusimano

Today is World Refugee Day, a time to reflect on the struggles faced by the millions of people who are forcibly displaced each year. This year, the refugee crisis dominating the headlines is in the Sahel region of West Africa, a part of the world that is already suffering immensely from drought, famine, and the conditions associated with extreme poverty.

Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in an attempt to escape the sectarian violence that is dominating Northern Mali. Over forty thousand of these refugees have streamed into Niger, and as many as 50 new families arrive every day. This has created an untenable situation in which the population of the border region of Tillabéri must share already scant resources with the newly arrived refugees.

ICRC/I. Djadi via All Africa

In an effort to help provide some relief, Wells Bring Hope has adjusted our drilling plan in order to direct additional resources to Niger’s border region. Our original drilling plan called for 10 wells to be drilled in Tillabéri over the course of the year, but as a result of our accelerated plan, we drilled 23 wells in Tillabéri in the first quarter alone.

References

Ayoub, Abed. “Fight to Survive in Niger.” Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 20 June 2012.

“Niger: Local Population and Malian Refugees Hard Hit by Food Crisis.” All Africa. The International Committee of the Red Cross, 1 June 2012.

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Daughters Sold as Conditions in Niger Worsen

By Jessica Isaac

As the drought continues to affect Niger and the wider Sahel region of Africa, more and more parents are resorting to desperate measures to keep their families alive. For some parents, selling off their young daughters for marriage has become a means of survival.

photo by Gil Garcetti

This heightened incidence of child marriage is due, in part, to a food shortage stretching across the sub-Saharan region. This shortage, caused by a recent drought, is expected to worsen in the coming months. By selling their daughters, families have fewer mouths to feed and boost their survival chances as a whole. Unfortunately, not only do these young brides often end up in towns where they are vulnerable to abuse and sex trafficking, but they will most likely be forced to bear children at a very young age, increasing their risk of death.

Just how young are these child brides?

A recent article from our partners at World Vision documents child protection specialist Fatima Soumana's encounter with a 7-year-old girl sold as a bride to a family's 20-year-old son. Another case shows a 13-year-old girl whose father sold her in exchange for 20 goats. After she was rescued from the marriage by a local judge, Touayi Oumar, the girl's mother, was relieved.

“Children know nothing of the duties of marriage and having sex with a man is sometimes difficult even for an older women,” Oumar said. “How can a child be expected to do that?”

Wells Bring Hope strives to help these young girls live childhoods free of the fear of being sold as brides. By drilling wells in villages affected by this crisis, girls get the chance to be educated, marry later in life, and have children later, thus reducing the risk of death due to early child birth.

Donate now to give hope to the daughters of Niger.

Wordy Wednesday

{photo by Gil Garcetti}

Out and About with WBH

On May 24, WBH Founder and President Barbara Goldberg attended the first meeting of the newly relaunched Westside Women’s Network of the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. The meeting's organizer was Marion Claire, well-known speaking coach and longtime friend of Barbara and Wells Bring Hope. Also in attendance was another Wells Bring Hope supporter, highly respected Beverly Hills physician Dr. Cathie-Ann Lippman.

Barbara with Tyla Tingle, Dr. Cathie-Ann Lippman and Marion Claire

The featured speaker was Tyla Tingle, an incredible inspiration who climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro just 14 months after undergoing surgery for breast cancer. It was a great opportunity to spread the word about our cause and connect with some terrific women. And Barbara won a rafflea big basket of goodies!

Wordy Wednesday

Walking for Water
photo by Gil Garcetti

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Bel Air Crest Event – May 17, 2012

On May 17, Firouzeh Banki and Curtis Estes graciously hosted an event in honor of Wells Bring Hope at the lovely clubhouse in the Bel Air Crest community. The evening was a great success, thanks to our hosts, dedicated volunteers, longtime supporters and new friends!

From 6:30 to 8:30, guests mingled, dined and learned about Wells Bring Hope’s work. Special thanks to Jillian Ezra of Ezra Productions for her photography and to Daniel Yadlosky for his video work.

Flower arrangements by Bouvardia
Catering by Craig’s Crew

Gil Garcetti, former L.A. District Attorney and Vice President of Wells Bring Hope, kicked off the evening’s presentations by describing his first visit to West Africa. Gil shared photographs and anecdotes from that and subsequent trips as he explained that “water is key” to changing lives in Niger and throughout West Africa. Following Gil’s remarks, WBH Founder and President Barbara Goldberg introduced a newly released video on the transformative effects of the microloans that women receive when a well is drilled. During Barbara’s presentation, longtime Wells Bring Hope supporter Laurie Adami presented her with a check for $5,600 to fund a well. This will be the second well that Laurie and her family have funded!

Following the presentations, Wells Bring Hope necklaces and copies of Gil’s book, Water is Key, were raffled off as guests continued to enjoy the evening.

Over the course of the evening, several guests committed to starting Water Circles. Thanks to the generosity of friends both old and new, we raised over $20,000—enough for close to four wells! Thank you, Bel Air Crest, for welcoming Wells Bring Hope into your community.

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