Annual Fundraiser

As you drive east on Sunset Boulevard toward Beverly Hills, you’ll pass a house that's sure to catch your eye. Its life-sized, amusing sculptures can't be missed. You’ll ask yourself, “I wonder who lives there?” and “What else is behind those gates?”

The guests at Wells Bring Hope’s annual fundraiser had those questions answered for them last Sunday when they were welcomed to the home of philanthropist, Stanley Black.

It was a balmy afternoon, a perfect time to stroll the 2 ½ acres and feast one’s eyes on the many statues that dot the lawn.

Honorees, Mandana and Alan Azad had many of their friends join them.

Also joining us was Adrian Paul of The Highlander TV series and founder of The Peace Fund.

Guests nibbled on lots of delicious food from Craig’s Crew and the wine was flowing. Socha Tea treated us to three yummy iced teas that were a huge hit!

With close to 100 items in our silent auction, our guests had lots of ways to spend their donor dollars, including many travel and fine dining experiences.

At the close of the silent auction, guests moved to the back lawn, to be welcomed by Founder and President, Barbara Goldberg, who talked about the work of Wells Bring Hope and why it is worthy of their donor dollars.

After Barbara's remarks, Cultural Ambassador to UNESCO, Gil Garcetti, the man who inspired Wells Bring Hope, presented an award to honorees Mandana and Alan Azad, and Adrian Paul spoke about why The Peace Fund chose to support Wells Bring Hope.

Following Barbara's and Gil's remarks, Grant Snyder, auctioneer extraordinaire, took the stage to auction off some amazing trips—to Puerto Vallarta, Park City, and Napa plus two tickets to anywhere in the world, Business Class, on Turkish Airlines.

Thanks to our wonderful supporters and tireless volunteers, the event was a huge success! We raised over $300,000 thanks to the help of Bill Bloomfield who matched funds that were donated for wells, in the amount of $25,000. Special thanks to Gigi and Alan Cheung of Panda Restaurant Group who donated eight wells that were matched by the Panda Foundation. We would also like to thank pro bono Event Planner and long-time friend of Barbara’s, Carol Rosen of Party Designs by Carol.

We are very grateful to Debrah Lemattre of Stretch Media for capturing the festive atmosphere and joyful donors in all of these terrific photographs!

*If you would like to see more photos or download any of those you see above, they will be available here until the end of the month.

Annual Volunteer BBQ

On July 13th, local Wells Bring Hope volunteers gathered at the home of Founder and President Barbara Goldberg for the annual summer barbecue. Special thanks to Jessica Isaac for taking these photos of all of our lovely volunteers!

We love it when our volunteers introduce their friends to Wells Bring Hope. As Barbara says, one of the best ways to support us is to “walk through the world with Wells Bring Hope!”

As always, Barbara provided a feast, and everyone ate ewll!

After everyone had eaten, we took some time to recognize a few extra special volunteers. First, Barbara presented long-time WBH supporter and current Director of Volunteer Management Ida Harding with the a lifetime achievement award for all she has done to help us save lives with safe water. Next Director of Operations Kate Cusimano presented Volunteer of the Year awards to webmaster Chuck Gooley and Director of Special Events Helen Rigg. Both Chuck and Helen are invaluable to Wells Bring Hope, and we couldn't be happier to have them on our team!

Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers; we could not do this without you!

Her Head

By Joan Murray

{photo by Gil Garcetti}

Near Ekuvukeni,
in Natal, South Africa,
a woman carries water on her head.
After a year of drought,
when one child in three is at risk of death,
she returns from a distant well,
carrying water on her head.

The pumpkins are gone,
the tomatoes withered,
yet the woman carries water on her head.
The cattle kraals are empty,
the goats gaunt-
no milk now for children,
but she is carrying water on her head.

The engineers have reversed the river:
those with power can keep their power,
but one woman is carrying water on her head.
In the homelands, where the dusty crowds
watch the empty roads for water trucks,
one woman trusts herself with treasure,
and carries water on her head.

The sun does not dissuade her,
not the dried earth that blows against her,
as she carries the water on her head.
In a huge and dirty pail,
with an idle handle,
resting on a narrow can,
this woman is carrying water on her head.

This woman, who girds her neck
with safety pins, this one
who carries water on her head,
trusts her own head to bring to her people
what they need now
between life and death:
She is carrying them water on her head.

From Looking for the Parade (W. W. Norton), used by permission of the author.

The Price of Water: Guatemala

by Stella Salguero-Ramirez

{source: Pedro Szekely}

The summer of 1998, I spent three months in Guatemala City with my family. The majority of my relatives live there, and I frequently go for two week visits to see my cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandmother. My memories from that summer include fun packed days visiting ruins in Antigua, traveling hours down spiraling dirt roads, lush green, scenic routes and distant volcanos that stirred an interest in hiking. That summer, however, was not spent on touristic expeditions. We didn’t rampantly capture every scenic second of our visit with our cameras; we spent our time like locals. To my mother and father, of course this was nostalgic, a return home; to me, it was culture shock. The sole intent of our trip was to spend as much time as possible with my fragile great-grandmother before her time came.

The weeks rolled by, and one thing that did not get easier was bathing. Showering was not an option. The showerheads at my mother’s childhood home did not work, and hot water was nonexistent as they didn’t have the means to purchase a water heater. I found myself unmotivated to bathe because my only option was a bath in freezing water. To an 8-year-old girl, diving into arctic cold water for hygiene purposes was not an appealing concept, so I opted to go days without a drop of water hitting my skin. My Tia Carmen would chase me around the terrace, forcing me wash myself. My cousins would all help her carry me down the terrace stairs to force me to the pila, a concrete t-shaped sink useful for washing clothes, dishes and stinky 8-year-old brats who refused to live a sanitary existence.

{source: Guatemala Through My Eyes}

Tia Carmen would heat the water for me on the stove, but I found the entie process daunting and excruciatingly uncomfortable. I wasn’t used to this process of bathing; I was refusing to conform to their ways, until it finally hit me. They were going out of their way to heat water on the stove and to convince me to practice basic hygiene. I was only there for three months; they had never left the country. Everyone was accustomed to small rations of water a day, but I could not wrap my mind around it.

To this day, Guatemala has an abundance of water. Rain pours in generous amount through the months of August and September. Enough water exists to supply the demand yet what is lacking is the appropriate management to disperse this supply to the entire population. According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, “94% now have access to improved water resources; 80% have improved sanitation facilities.” These statistics are a remarkable improvement, yet improvement shouldn’t end at the 80th percentile. Guatemala should continue to raise the bar to achieve 100% improved sanitation and safety for all.

According to the Water Resources Assessment of Guatemala compiled, US Army Corps of Engineers explains that, “The quality of surface water resources is generally fresh except along the coastal areas of the country. However, based on established biological and chemical standards, every water body in the country should be considered contaminated. In agricultural areas, pesticides are a primary source of contamination. Sewage from Guatemala City has caused the Rio Villalobos, which receives 60 percent of the sewage, and the Rio Las Vacas, which receives the remaining 40 percent of the sewage, to be considered the most contaminated streams in the country.”

Contaminated water has detrimental effects on the lives of many and poses life-threatening challenges to many more, particularly children. Access to safe water must increase to 100% around the world. Everyone has the right to safe water, food, and shelter. Increasing access to clean water can reduce deaths by more than 50% around the world. Every adult and child around the world should know what clean water tastes like. Let’s make this dream a reality!


School’s Out

By Bryan Langdo

Summer is here, and another school year has ended. For two whole months, my wife and I will have a break from the endless stream of homework, projects, emails, parent-teacher conferences, and other school events. Our kids will be free to swim, ride their bikes, and roam the woods behind our house. I’m especially happy for my daughter, who is just coming out of kindergarten.

When I think back to my own year in kindergarten, I remember a lot of fun stuff: learning letters and listening to stories, making collages, playing with my friends. It was pretty laidback. My daughter, on the other hand, was given long lists of words to memorize, time-consuming projects, and a ton of homework—more than any five-year-old should have to deal with. So when a homework assignment was too much, or a project too big, I’d do what any responsible parent would do. I’d crumple it up and throw it in the trash. “Go outside and have fun!” I’d say.

{source: Hope Abrams}

I’m privileged that I can do such a thing, I know. The only reason I could, quite literally, throw out some of my child’s education is because she was getting way more than she needed. She had a surplus of education at her disposal. It’s the same thing with water. I can forget to turn off the faucet while scrubbing dishes (though I try not to) because I have more water than I need.

For many people around the world, and in Niger specifically, water and education are tightly linked, and neither is something to be casually thrown away. Over 60% of people in rural Niger don’t have access to clean water. Those people must deal with the daily task of making multiple trips to a stream, a shallow well, or other water source, which is often filthy and often miles away.

This grueling task falls disproportionately on women and young girls. And since fetching water can take up to 50% of the day, the majority of girls in rural Niger don’t have time to go to school. As a result, 85% of Nigerien women are illiterate. Without a proper education, these girls are unlikely to earn a decent living later in life, and the cycle of poverty continues.

That’s why the work that Wells Bring Hope does is so important. When a well is drilled in a village, the women and girls in that village have their time back. The girls can go to school and receive an education, and the women receive microfinance support and can start small businesses with their freed up time. When you donate to Wells Bring Hope, you’re helping to provide both water and education to people—people who need it desperately. People who don’t have the luxury of throwing any of it away.


A Shower Alternative

by Jessi Johnson

There is increased awareness of the need for clean water in the world. The global water crisis has become both a rallying point for many who strive to address the issues of lack of access to drinkable water and other limited resources. When thinking about fighting about the water crisis, we usually think about the struggle for clean drinking water, and it can be easy to overlook another challenge faced by those lacking access to water – the inability to take a shower and bathe their children.
Many take for granted being able to wash themselves; for some countries, it is not only a matter of hygiene, but one of religion and ritual as well. Being able to purify in water can hold great cultural significance. The health benefits of staying clean are more obvious: decreased illnesses, improved immune strength, quicker recovery from illness, and better moods. Being able to solve the global water crisis will lead to healthier bodies, inside and out.
For 23-year-old Ludwick Marishane, the power of the shower was just as essential as fresh drinking water. The South African-born entrepreneur created “DryBath,” a germ-killing gel that allows a person to bathe without using a single drop of water – all one has to do is apply the lotion to skin and rub vigorously. DryBath is a blend of cleansers, moisturizers, natural emollients, and fruit acids – to cleanse the skin and to prevent dryness, irritation and body odor.
This amazing lotion isn’t just for the person too lazy to shower; it could become an essential tool in conserving clean water. Water can take an entire day to gather, and the local water source may be polluted or dried up. When water is limited and people are forced to choose between quenching their thirst or cleaning their bodies, most people will make the practical choice and cut out a “luxury” like showering.

Even for societies which don’t bathe regularly as a cultural norm, the DryBath is an opportunity to bring in a system of hygiene that will save water costs and improve health. When water doesn’t have to be used for bathing, the local population can use their limited resource of clean water for drinking and cooking. There are nearly 2 billion people in the world without access to clean water and adequate sanitation. In contrast, urban communities consume an average of 21 gallons every time they turn on the shower. DryBath provides a stopgap solution for communities without access to water, but may also be an important resource for places that overindulge in water – cut back on water usage in urban societies, and more water could be available to rural ones.
Marishane’s project is still in development, but its very existence offers hope. While it is essential to increase access to clean drinking water around the world, perhaps there is also a way to simultaneously increase access to clean bathing? After all, everyone has the right to feel clean, inside and out.

A Time for Reflection

by Shelton Owen

{Editor’s note: New blogger Shelton Owen reflects on the devastating tornadoes that struck the Midwest a few weeks ago, her thoughts turn from unpreventable tragedy to the entirely preventable problems faced by people in Niger who lack access to clean water.}

As tornadoes sweep across the country, destroying anything and anyone in their path, people are left with broken hearts and crumbled hope. The surface of the earth is swept clean, taking out homes, schools, businesses, and many innocent lives. A horrific act of nature, unplanned and unwelcome, can shake the lives of many, turning the world upside down in a matter of seconds. Though right now the pain is raw, thoughts clouded by the grief, I truly believe there is something we can all learn from these experiences. It may take months or even years, but the struggles we must trek through in this life will shape us into warriors, filled with wisdom and strong souls.

One of my favorite quotes of all time, a short but powerful string of words, is this, “Our scars remind us where we’ve been, but they don’t have to dictate where we’re going.” Those affected by these recent storms have been gashed, wounds open and exposed. Over time, the cuts will begin to heal, the scabs will form, and eventually the scars will set in-permanent though they become more faint as time passes. This monster’s victims will never forget what took place, but my prayer is that they can use their own pain as motivation to act-to change the things they can and accept those they cannot.

As the rest of us in the country looks on, we often find ourselves reflecting upon our own lives, counting blessings and thinking about the “what ifs.” Sometimes, it takes a core-shaking event like this to make us become aware of life’s imperfections. When we face the reality that life isn’t fair and not all things can be explained, it’s easy to let it drag us down. My belief is that rather than focusing on the negative, it’s so much more rewarding to turn this experience into something bigger-to go beyond. Rather than sitting in our comfortable homes, feeling devastated yet powerless, let’s take action.

When it comes to preventing tornadoes, we truly don’t have control, but when it comes to the epidemic occurring in the country of Niger, we are anything but helpless. Wells Bring Hope is an organization that makes a difference, which chooses to address the heartbreaking issue of limited access to sanitized drinking water. Wells Bring Hope is a network made up of everyday people who chose to take a step. The first step in the direction of success is to simply raise awareness. By eliminating what I call the “bubble mindset”, we are able to have a global understanding of the shortfalls in water sanitation systems. What I mean by the “bubble mindset” is that when we focus on our own life and only what we see, we find ourselves forgetting the world outside of our scope, the people not necessarily near us but still in need. The people of Niger may be thousands of miles from you and me, but in reality, are we not all one?

Esperance Klugan, National Director for World Vision Niger with his little friend Safura in San Sane Hausa. Safura, a four-year-old girl that the National Director of World Vision Niger met while out on a field visit. Unlike other children in the rural areas of Niger, Safura was eager to befriend the team and especially Esperance, whom she really took to. Perhaps her warmth towards him is proof that, when you care for children they know it, even without you saying it. Summary: Safura a little girl in a village called San Sane Hausa, takes to the National Director. Her openness and warmth, which is uncharacteristic of people in the rural areas of Niger is surprising. Could this be a type of “positive deviance”? Africa

{A World Vision staff member and a Nigerien child}

We are humans, humans that eat, drink, love, and hurt. Through the work of Wells Bring Hope, your prayers, and donations, a change can be made. The daily obstacle to find safe, clean drinking water for their families is one that a multitude of people in Niger face, and one that can be eliminated. In fact, only 60% of the people in rural areas merely have access to a sanitized water source. It is clear measures must be taken to combat this prevalent issue. The task will take time, hard work, and the combined efforts of people like you and me, but it is anything but impossible.


Wells Bring Hope vs. Boko Haram

by Barbara Goldberg

{photo by Ken Kilroy}

It’s impossible not to feel outrage at what has happened in Nigeria: 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in mid-April, and the government has been ineffectual in getting them back. The international community is finally paying attention after Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau threatened to “sell them in the marketplace” as slaves or child brides.

These were girls, ripe with hope and striving to get an education, who risked their lives to come to school for one day to take an exam, despite the fact that many schools in their region had closed because of the Boko Haram threat.

{photo by Ken Kilroy}

Here we are, a tiny nonprofit, thousands of miles away in Los Angeles viewing Boko Haram as our sworn enemy. Boko Haram fights to destroy what we so desperately try to bring about: education for girls. We work just across the border from Nigeria in Niger, a country where girls are routinely deprived of an education because it falls to them to walk miles every day to collect water for their families. As a result, 85% of women in Niger, the poorest country in the world, cannot read or write. When we drill a well in a village, girls are immediately returned to the classroom because they no longer have to walk for water. This is one of the many transformative benefits of drilling a well.

The future success of developing countries throughout the world depends on having educated women in the work force. With almost half of the potential labor pool missing in action, countries like Niger have a hard time raising their standard of living and giving women what they deserve: an opportunity to work and better the lives of their children.

{photo by Ken Kilroy}

As Nicolas Kristof asked in the New York Times on May 11th, “Why are fanatics so terrified of girls’ education? Because there’s no force more powerful to transform a society. If you want to mire a nation in backwardness, manacle your daughters.”

As Kristof pointedly says, “To stick it to the Boko Haram, help educate a girl.” By supporting Wells Bring Hope you are supporting the education of girls. Fight Boko Haram by helping to drill a well and keep a girl in school.

Water Crisis?

by Bryan Langdo

Water Officials in Portland, Oregon, recently decided to flush 38 million gallons of water from a reservoir after a man urinated in it. A similar event took place in 2011; that time, they flushed nearly 8 million gallons. Public safety was never at risk in either situation. Birds and other animals use the reservoir as a latrine as well, and it would take a lot of urine to have any impact on such a large body of water. In both events, the water was discarded simply because the idea that someone urinated in it is, well, “yucky.” The decision-makers in both instances knew they were going to face a lot of criticism no matter what they decided to do. They’d either be wasting water or supplying it to people who knew someone had peed in it. Ultimately, they flushed it because they can. As Portland Water Bureau spokesman David Shaff said, “It’s easy to replace those 38 million gallons of water.”

The whole thing says a lot about how privileged we are here in the U.S. If we think water is even slightly gross, we dump it. After all, there’s always plenty more where it came from.

Even when we do have water shortages in the U.S., the impact on our lives is minimal. We’re told to take shorter showers and refrain from washing our cars or watering our lawns. California is experiencing a drought right now, and all Governor Brown has asked is that people cut their use by 20%. And we rarely have to worry about being thirsty. Even if our tap water is of questionable quality, we can just buy bottled water or a filter to put on our faucet.

{photo by Gil Garcetti}

But for approximately 8 million people in rural Niger, the only water available is downright filthy, and even that is in short supply. It’s usually the same water animals swim in, and it’s often contaminated with bacteria and parasites that can lead to a number of horrible diseases, such as diarrhea, trachoma, and bilharzia. For Nigeriens, the water isn’t “yucky”—it’s dangerous and often deadly. With no other options, though, they have no choice but to risk drinking it. That’s why Wells Bring Hope is determined to drill the 11,000 more wells that are needed to provide everyone with the clean, safe water they need. When a village gets a well, the people in that village get access to clean water—something we in the U.S. often take for granted—and their lives are transformed. For them, water isn’t about washing cars or watering lawns. It’s about survival—another thing many of us take for granted.


Women and Water

By Kathleen Treat, Chair of Strong Women, Strong World

My recent trip to Niger was unlike any other trip I have taken. I find myself explaining it by calling it “simple.” The needs are so basic and fundamental that they need little explanation. There is not a lot of context to grasp. It’s very clear.

I knew, intellectually, what it meant when dealing with the issue of women and water. I’ve been to communities where women have to walk long distances to fetch water for their family. It was one of many hardships that women bore as they tried to provide for their children.

But Niger was different. It was raw. It took that knowledge I had in my head and moved it to my gut. As I rode hour after hour through a barren landscape, the needs became simpler and more gut wrenching. Water is life. Water is everything. There are no other needs if there is no water. There are no other choices if there is no water.

We visited several pump sites in the communities. The joy around them was palpable. One woman told us that the stagnant water source the community had been using had tested positive for Cholera. The government had told them that they couldn’t use it. But it was the only water available, and so they used it. Without water, there are no options.

The most exciting thing for me on the trip is what we were calling “WASH +”. Women in these communities spent 6-8 hours hunting for water every day. When a pump came, that time was instantly freed up. For the first time, they had the opportunity to look at their other needs, to have some choices. In these communities, World Vision was introducing women’s savings groups (as the “plus”) to the WASH program. The women were able to come together and be trained in the first steps of, what is essentially, community banking. They would pool the small amount of money they had, make loans to each other, and share in the profits that they all made.

It was astounding to see the changes. They were able to grow better food for their families, send their children to school, and earn the respect of their husbands. They had hope for the first time, and they were embracing it.

It was very simple: provide clean water, provide instruction, and watch while their entrepreneurial spirits ignited.