Life-Changing Effects of a New Well

by Kate Cusimano

When a new well is drilled, the most obvious and immediate benefit is access to clean water. Africa’s challenges, however, extend well beyond its water problems. Fortunately, the benefits that a new well offers to a community go a long way toward addressing these other issues. In addition to the reduction of water-related diseases, a new well offers myriad other benefits ranging from increased empowerment for women to a significant reduction in local poverty. The following are the top five ways that a village benefits when Wells Bring Hope, in partnership with World Vision, drills a new well.

There is an immediate improvement in the health of the local population.

In West Africa, problems with water and sanitation are largely responsible for a low life expectancy and high rate of childhood mortality. By digging a well, we can reduce childhood mortality by a staggering 65 percent. In addition, access to clean water virtually eliminates waterborne diseases such as trachoma, an infection that affects 40% of Nigeriens and leads to blindness if left untreated.

Women are empowered and progress is made toward gender equality.
When a community does not have access to a clean water source, the burden of tracking down and hauling clean water falls to women and girls. In the dry season, this means that the female villagers end up walking as many as six miles every day in order to provide their families with clean water. Time spent gathering water is time that these women and girls do not have for education or income-producing work. In addition, these multi-mile treks are fraught with danger; physical and sexual assaults as well as wild animal attacks are very real threats. When a well is dug, women regain the time necessary to receive an education and earn an income, two things that can increase their perceived value within a community. In addition, Nigerien law dictates that the committee charged with maintaining a well must be at least 50% female. This is significant because it empowers women and gives them a voice and a means of influencing village life.

A fifteen-year commitment to the education and empowerment of the villagers begins.
Digging a well is only the first step toward transforming the lives of local residents. In addition to providing a clean water source, it is important to educate people on the importance of good sanitation and proper hygiene. Latrines are installed and locals are taught the importance of using them in order to avoid contaminating the water supply. In addition, villagers are taught the essentials of drip farming so they can begin using “grey water” to grow vegetables for personal consumption and for sale. Finally, our World Division partners visit each village once a month to ensure that the program continues to thrive.

Education becomes a reality and a priority.
Children who once spent the better part of a day helping their mothers carry water from distant wells have more time to devote to school once a well is dug. In addition, children no longer have to miss school because of the debilitating diarrhea that results from consuming dirty water. Overall, a new well can result in a 40% improvement in school attendance.

Women are given micro-loans to develop small businesses.
When women no longer have to spend hours gathering water, they have the time necessary to start and run small businesses, so providing the micro-loans they need to get started has become an essential part of our work. These women have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and with just a little bit of seed money, they are able to create and maintain small businesses. Working together, the women form micro-credit enterprises in which they do things like raise livestock, grow vegetables, and make peanut oil, millet cakes, or soap to sell at the local market. When women are empowered and valued members of the society, the quality of life for everyone in the village is markedly improved.

Panda Restaurant Group Donation of Over $100,000 Announced at Fundraiser

by Susan Van Seggern

Last week, Wells Bring Hope celebrated incredible news at a spectacular fundraiser. “A Journey to Niger, West Africa” was held at the Lladro Gallery, 408 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, on Thursday October 27, hosted by Valgard Capital Partners, LLC, and its principals, Robert Kerrigan and Kenneth Kilroy.

The event featured memorable photos displayed throughout the gallery, taken by Ken Kilroy on his April 2011 trip to Niger. A video shot by his son, Ross, on the same trip was also shown that night. The event and video highlighted the accomplishments of Ken’s remarkable 15-year-old daughter, Kevin Kilroy, who, through donations from her church, school and others, raised funds for five wells. Leslie Miller of Channel 7 Eyewitness News was on hand to interview Kevin and the 2 ½ minute segment was aired the same night.

Wells Bring Hope Founder and President, Barbara Goldberg, kicked off the evening by thanking attendees and telling them about what Wells Bring Hope does and the uniqueness of its program. Also in attendance was former Los Angeles County District Attorney and internationally acclaimed photographer, Gil Garcetti who talked about what happens when a well is drilled in a village.

The most memorable part of the evening was the presentation of a major donation by WBH supporter, Panda Restaurant Group. Vice President Stanley Liu announced the donation by longtime Panda employees, Alan and Gigi Cheung of $56,000 which was matched by company Founder and Chairman, Andrew Cherng and his wife Peggy for a total gift of $112,000. Mr. Cherng was also present to receive the gratitude expressed by WBH. He has pledged to match all funds raised for wells by his employees who he has encouraged to support Wells Bring Hope.

These funds will enable WBH to drill 20 more wells, surpassing their 2011 goal of 40 by 8 wells. This does not include other donations from this fundraiser, which added 5 more wells.

For photos from the event, please see our Flickr page. For video from the event, please see our YouTube Channel. Click here to see the Channel 7 Eyewitness News segment.

October 15th: World Rural Women’s Day

by Pat Landowska

Did you know that October 15 is the International Day of Rural Women? It was established by the United Nations in 2007 and observed for the first time in 2008, in New York. The purpose of dedicating the day to women living in rural areas of the world is to direct attention to both the contribution that women make in these areas, and the many challenges that they face.

According to the 2009 report “Global Employment Trends for Women,” rural women form the backbone of the agricultural labor force across much of the developing world. Globally, more than a third of the female workforce is engaged in agriculture, while in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, more than 60 per cent of all female employment is in this sector.

In developing countries, rural women fulfill many different roles: they are farmers, caretakers of children and the elderly, wage workers and small-scale-entrepreneurs. They often spend long hours fetching water and collecting firewood. But too often they are held back by lack of education, unequal property rights and limited control over resources. Because women carry out a range of vital household and caring tasks, their overall working hours tend to be longer than men’s.

“Rural women have the potential to propel their households and communities forward, to lift them out of poverty,” says Annina Lubbock, Adviser on Gender and Poverty Targeting at International Fund for Agricultural Development. “When investments reach women, transformations begin to occur.” Providing women with better opportunities to grow and sell their own crops, undertake paid work in an agro-industry, or take on other paid activities in the rural sector is critical to increasing their bargaining power within the home. It can also legitimize their control over key material resources, such as land and credit. This is important because it elevates their status within families and communities, but also because women are more likely than men to invest their income on food and other basic needs for the household, states the 2008 report of the World Bank “Equity for women : Where do we stand on Millennium Development Goal 3?”

“To tap women’s potential, we need to first understand their challenges and their needs, and then direct our investments accordingly,” says Lubbock, “because when they overcome traditional barriers, the gains are huge.”

Help Save a Life

Can You Give Three Minutes A Week To Save A Life?

Of course most of us want to save a life, but who has the time? Wells Bring Hope has an easy answer: by simply broadcasting our messages to your network you can help save lives, empower women, educate girls and change a village for generations to come. That is a powerful and meaningful contribution you can make toward improving our world


What would happen if one thousand people on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere sent out or retweeted our messages three times a week? We would reach at least half a million people a month. Multiply that by twelve!

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An African Reflects on Clean and Dirty Water

by Hadiara Diallo

Recently, I looked at pictures of clean and dirty water taken during my last trip to Niger, West Africa. There were a few shots of the surrounding village of Tchibarey. These photos remind me that while much of Africa struggles to find clean water sources, during the wettest season, the ‘marigaux’’ encircling the village was high enough to force us to get out of the car and walk through the water embankment so we could get to the village. Although locals were happy for the rain, one can’t help but wonder why countries throughout Africa are not taking better advantage of methods to recapture water for future use.

By sharing my pictures, I thought you might get a clear idea about what water looks like in my part of the world, which is further described by Pete Brach in his blog: Why Clean Water for Africa? Certainly, the adage: ‘’A picture speaks a thousand words” truly applies in this situation. So, while my blog Struggling To Find Clean Water In West Africa describes dismal conditions, pictures of the muddied murk of dirty water drive the point home most directly. Please take a quick look at them and see what people in Tchibarey and many West African villages use for cooking, bathing and drinking! Do you not agree that everyone living in Africa and elsewhere has a right to clean drinking water?

In Niger, the consumption of unsafe water is the source of many ills for the population in the areas of health, employment and education. By donating money or time to Wells Bring Hope, you are helping Africans move out of poverty and into jobs. Please join us in our fight to bring clean water to Niger, West Africa, the third poorest country in the world.

Empowerment for Women

by Sophie Glander

Bringing empowerment to women allows for greater expressions of caring attentiveness within communities. It follows then, to create lasting change, greater attention must be put on helping women cultivate their potential. They must be empowered and given the chance to feel proud of who and what they are.

Fati Harouna, a 39 year old Nigerien women is a great example of wholesome pride. She reads, writes and understands math. Thanks to micro-financing, she is also an accomplished business owner. Kenyan Vivian Onano is yet another promising example. Kenyan has moved from living in an impoverished village to being a sophomore at Carthage College, Wisconsin. Otherwise, her fate might have matched 50% of Nigerien girls who marry men 3 times their age.

While it is all well and good to discuss the importance of empowering women, that is where it often ends. Wells need to be drilled if this dream is to become a reality. Improving education and training is another prime mover that will cement a brighter future. Quoting the great Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

In many cases, particularly in remote villages, funding education without drilling a well is wasteful. However, without the heavy burden of fetching water, many girls will be free to become literate, discover their talents, learn new skills and develop into women who can empower their village, their country and their world.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform”. – Diane Mariechild


The Revenge of Water

by Barbara Goldberg

In the July 29th issue of “The Week,” one of my favorite publications, an eye-opening article appeared with the above title, excerpted from a book by Charles Fishman, “The Big Thirst.” “Water warriors” like me and others spend a lot of time thinking and writing about the lack of safe water in the developing world. But what about water in our own backyard? Was there a time in the history of the United States when people died of unsafe water? Absolutely. And what did we as a nation do about it? Plenty. Unfortunately, many governments in the developing world can’t afford to help their people adequately and so they suffer.

The following excerpts from the above mentioned article are noteworthy:

In the decade from 1905 to 1915, as dozens of water systems around the U.S. installed filters and chlorination systems, we went through a revolution that profoundly improved water, and human life, forever. Between 1900 and 1940, mortality rates in the United States fell 40 percent.

How much did clean water matter? Simple filtration and chlorination of city water supplies reduced overall mortality in U.S. cities by 13 percent. Clean water cut child mortality in half. From 1900 to 1940, U.S. life expectancy at birth went from 47 years to 63 years. In just 40 years, the life span of the average American was extended 16 years.

That first water revolution ushered in an era—the one we think we still live in—in which water was unlimited, free, and safe. And once it was unlimited, free, and safe, we could stop thinking about it. The fact that it was unfailingly available “on demand” meant that we would use it more, even as we thought about it less.

The figures are dramatic. In 1955, the U.S. Geological Survey said that rural Americans without running water in their homes used 10 gallons a day per person. (That same year, each cow used 20 gallons per day.) For newly “electrified” farm families, with pumps, and for city families, that number was already 60 gallons per person. Today, it’s 100 gallons per person at home.

The ease with which water enters and leaves our lives allows us an indifference to our water supply. We are utterly ignorant of our own watermark, of the amount of water required to float us through the day, and we are utterly indifferent to the mark our daily lives leave on the water supply.

Right now, 40 percent of the world’s 6.9 billion people don’t have easy access to clean water. By 2050, there will be 2.4 billion more people on the planet. They will be thirsty.

The three things that we have taken to be the natural state of our water supply—abundant, cheap, and safe—will not be present together in the decades ahead. We may have water that is abundant and cheap, but it will be “reuse water,” for things like lawn watering or car washing, not for drinking; we will certainly have drinking water that is safe, and it may be abundant, but it will not be thoughtlessly inexpensive.


by Amanda Silver-Westrick

Imagine if, here in the United States, all of the water pipes in your house
disappeared one day. Now imagine that the only way to get water for the
household was to make a daily two-hour trek on foot to the closest river. Your
daughters, your mother, and your sisters were suddenly responsible for this task,
and you helplessly watched them walk away in the mornings with empty buckets.

Your female family members would start to develop health problems from the
walk itself, including neck and shoulder pain from carrying heavy containers
of water. When in dire need of water, you might have to send your young
daughter to the river alone, and she might encounter snakes, wild dogs, or other
dangerous animals. Sexual predators might also frequent these paths, knowing
that young women pass by every day. And as you helplessly watch the females of
your family walk home from their long journey laden with the heavy weight of their
sloshing buckets, you would feel the pain of knowing you had no choice but to send
them out tomorrow and every day after that.

This nightmare is a daily reality in most of rural Africa. The search for clean water
is all-consuming and arduous, and mostly unsuccessful. Once the women reach
Africa’s rivers and lakes, they often have no choice but to fill their buckets with
brown, murky water, teeming with parasites and bacteria like schistosomiasis
and cholera. Development projects that bring clean, accessible water to African
villages eradicate more than just water-borne illnesses. They also help to keep
local women safe and healthy.

Why Clean Water for Africa

by Pete Brach

Why is providing clean water so important and why Africa? First and foremost,
water with pathogens kills 4,900 African children per day. This translates into
more than one child per minute! This is a travesty considering that clean water
for the people of Africa significantly improves health conditions, combats hunger,
increases educational opportunities for allows girls to go to school, frees up
time for women to establish small businesses and cumulatively improves the

It is astonishing that one third of Africa’s population has no access to clean
water. Almost two-thirds have no access to proper sanitation. The result:
widespread suffering from malaria, typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea and other
diseases. Using global statistics as a benchmark, the occupation of an estimated
50% of all hospital beds in Africa results from waterborne diseases!

Women and girls in Niger, West Africa break their backs walking miles a day to
fetch water, water so dirty that no one living in a developed nation would dream
of giving it to their children. For these women, their only choice is to give their
very young water that may be contaminated and pray they survive!
Grim statistics state that one out of four of their children will not live to see their
5th birthday. 40% of the population has trachoma which, when left untreated,
leads to blindness. Some will be victims of guinea worm – an extremely painful
condition; a worm, sometimes several feet long, lives under the skin.

Wells Bring Hope!

A quote from our President, Barbara Goldberg: “…in some small villages in Niger
there is hope. Drill a well 300 feet into the ground and lives are transformed
instantly.” When a clean water well is drilled in a village in West Africa,
tremendous joy abounds. They see it as a miracle and hope for their future. You
can see it in the video on our Home page.

Some quotes from that video

“When we started pumping water, the chief of the community, he is eighty years
old…when he saw water coming out from that pump, he started crying. He was
saying that he could not imagine in his life that one day his village would get
clean water like this.”

“Everything will be alright now that we have got good water. We won’t be sick.
Our children won’t die.” (From a woman who lost 11 out of 12 children from
contaminated water.)

“Now we are so happy, it cut out more than half our work.”

“Now we don’t have to ask our men for money.”

“In Africa people say that to educate a girl is to educate a whole nation.”

A donation of $30 provides one child in Niger, West Africa access to a
clean water for 30+ years!

Our Founder


After her first child was born, Barbara Responsive Research, Inc. and spent over thirty years as a marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies including Bank of America, Coca Cola, American Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, General Mills, IBM, and 3M to name a few.


Barbara had a son in 1975 and moved to Los Angeles where she continued to work and raise her family.


In 1993, she founded Salon Forum, a non-business venture, to bring the many women she knew together for monthly events in her home that supported personal enrichment and connection. After a feature article on it appeared in The Los Angeles Times in 2007, Salon Forum’s mailing list grew to over 800 women.


In February, 2008, former L.A. County District Attorney Gil Garcetti spoke to the women of Salon Forum. His powerful works about and moving photographs of the water crisis in West Africa and the plight of women and girls touched Barbara deeply. An email the next day to the other women in the audience confirmed what she suspected – many felt a desire to take action. With little thought about how what she was doing might impact her life, Barbara jumped in with both feet and told Gil that the women of Salon Forum were taking up the clause.


A native New Yorker, Barbara began a rewarding career in marketing and advertising on Madison Avenue in the era of “Mad Men.” and has a few of her own stories to tell. Early on, a pioneering opportunity came along in the area of new product development in a stimulating “think tank,” trailblazing in the area of consumer research.

Since beginning Wells Bring Hope in 2008, Barbara has devoted her full time to saving lives with safe water in West Africa.

Barbara believes strongly that life can take surprising twists and turns – she had always been open to walking down a new path. As a risk taker with an adventuresome spirit, the idea of taking up a cause that inspired her and others seemed like a natural step, despite the fact that she was approaching a time in life when most people are thinking about retirement and slowing down. Barbara saw WBH as an opportunity to use the skills she had honed in her career to help make a difference in the lives of others.

Barbara has always valued her freedom, taking time to travel to remote, far-off places for relaxation and adventure. A relatively late grandmother of three girls, she came to understand why friends talked endlessly about their grandkids. As the head an almost all-volunteer organization of mostly “20-30-somethings,” she values the opportunity to mentor and support a great team of water warriors.