Welcome to Our New Corporate Partner – Aiqueous!

Wells Bring Hope would like to welcome Aiqueous, a water software firm based in Austin, TX, as our newest corporate partner! The mission of Aiqueous, to modernize utility operations with tools to sustain water resources for years to come, is grounded in their commitment to promoting positive social responsibility and environmental change stewardship.

Aiqueous is a member of 1% for the Planet, an organization that helps to link nonprofits like Wells Bring Hope to businesses like Aiqueous that care about sustainability and solving global problems through targeted action. As a business member of 1% for the Planet, Aiqueous donates 1% of its revenue towards causes aimed at sustainable solutions to water-related issues from around the world, and we are excited to announce that 50% of Aiqueous’ commitment for 2016 will be donated to Wells Bring Hope!

According to Aiqueous President Jonathan Kleinman, “What draws me to Wells Bring Hope is its recognition that women play a distinct role in the local economy within West African communities. Wells Bring Hope helps keep more resources within the community, and helps women to take on greater roles.”

We would like to thank Jonathan and the rest of the team at Aiqueous for their generous support of Wells Bring Hope this year, and we look forward to a great partnership going forward!

Why Education Matters

By Barbara Goldberg

On the front page of Saturday’s Los Angeles Times was this headline: “Former students in Nigeria hunt down teachers.” This is happening just across the border from where we work in Niger, West Africa. It is just the latest incident in the vicious campaign that Boko Haram has been waging against innocent people, focused on eliminating secular education, especially for girls.

In this most recent attack, students hunted down their former teachers, killing or threatening to kill them if they continue teaching.

With education as Boko Haram’s target, it is even more critical to ensure that girls throughout West Africa go to school. Boko Haram has crossed the border into Niger on several occasions, but the Nigerien government and its neighbors have pushed them back. However, Niger and other West African countries remain at risk from Boko Haram.

In rural Niger, education for girls can only happen when a well is drilled in a village. It is only when girls no longer have to walk miles to get water that they have the time to go to school.

The effects of educating girls have been well documented. When girls go to school, they…
• marry later.
• have children later and are less likely to die in childbirth.
• are better able to work and earn money for their families.
• make sure that their children get an education.

Education for girls is vital to ending the downward spiral of poverty in the poorest country in the world.




Wells Bring Hope Holiday Party

On December 1, 2016, Wells Bring Hope Founder and President Barbara Goldberg once again opened her home to WBH supporters and volunteers for some holiday cheer and a celebration of a another successful year in our effort to save lives with safe water.

We are fortunate to have some terrific, interesting people as our donors and volunteers who thoroughly enjoyed meeting each other.

It was a mood of celebration and relaxation, and as Charley Dobbs said, “What a great way to kick off the holiday season!”

And while this was not a fundraiser, I’d like to share a note that was given to me with a donation from long-time supporter, Catherine Kaufman: “In the spirit of the season and with love, I thank you and all who help with Wells Bring Hope. I am grateful and proud to be a small part of this wonderful venture.”

Wells Bring Hope received the gift of a wooden sculpture that was first used to line open contaminated wells in communities in West Africa. The grooves on the back of the work were worn away by ropes cutting into the wood as mothers and their daughters pulled up buckets of contaminated water. Thanks to our generous donors, their burden has been lifted.

We thank everyone who came and wished us well. We are thankful for our generous supporters who have made 426 wells possible!



Wells Bring Hope’s Annual Fundraiser

On Sunday, October 9th, philanthropist, Stanley Black welcomed Wells Bring Hope back to his home for the third year in a row for our annual fundraiser. It was a perfect California fall day and guests mixed and mingled in the late afternoon sun.

Our event was a huge success, thanks to our generous donors, capable volunteers, and especially to our Director of Special Events, Jamie Gates who choreographed it all.

We raised enough money to fund 32 wells, thanks to the help of Marsha and Mark Hierbaum who contributed $25,000 in matching funds and Bill and Susan Bloomfield who added another $15,000 in matching contributions for Raise the Paddle.

Guests nibbled on delicious food and sipped wine generously donated by the San Joaquin Wine Company. The more adventurous among us sampled the sparkling tequila cocktails provided by TeQava, also courtesy of San Joaquin.

While everyone ate, drank and chatted away, our fantastic volunteers enticed guests to bid in the silent auction.  The auction tables were loaded with exciting offerings and bidding for many items was fierce, especially for the Hollywood Bowl garden box that went for more than double its value! Thanks to everyone who bid and made the auction lively and fun.

There were weekend getaways in Park City, Scottsdale, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, and more as well as gift certificates to a variety of restaurants like the Century City hot spot Hinoki and the Bird, Cassia and the Michelin three star-rated Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, thanks to the generosity of Board member Ed Keebler.

At the close of the silent auction, guests moved to the back lawn, where they were welcomed by Founder and President, Barbara Goldberg. She talked about how cutting-edge professionals in the world of philanthropy recommend this: give where the need is greatest.  Our work to provide safe water is the most basic of human needs and doing it in the poorest country in the world qualifies WBH for that distinction.

Barbara introduced our partner, Sam Jackson from World Vision, who has been with us from the start and has guided and educated us on navigating the world of philanthropy.

Grant Snyder, auctioneer extraordinaire, took the stage for the fourth year in a row, helping us raise lots of money for wells.  He  auctioned off exciting trips to St. Croix, Whistler, Maui, and Chicago and there was lots of bidding action. Grant also tempted guests with orchestra seats for two to Hamilton, a unique behind-the-scenes experience on the set of Major Crimes and business class tickets for two to Europe on Turkish Airlines, supporting us for the last four years. We so appreciate their generosity.


Thank you to all who came to support Wells Bring Hope’s eight great  years!



Wells Bring Hope’s First Ever SoulCycle Fundraising Event

This past Saturday, twenty Wells Bring Hope supporters clipped in for a 45 minutes sweat session at the SoulCycle studio in Brentwood. Organized by WBH Advisory Board member Rose Schneider, the event was a first for Wells Bring Hope, and it proved an exciting and fun way to raise money to save lives with safe water! Between the riders and those who supported the fundraiser from afar, we raised over $3,000, and more continues to come in.

Everyone who participated left drenched in sweat and energized by the class, which was led by Michael, one of SoulCycle’s enthusiastic instructors. It was a great opportunity for WBH supporters to get together for a fun activity while raising money for the cause. Andi Claman, head of the WBH Club at Chadwick School is already looking into organizing a similar fundraising ride at the SoulCycle near her school!


The Repercussions of Violence Against Women

by Vanesa Martin

The implications of the violence wrought by extremist group Boko Haram to the nations surrounding Nigeria, including Chad and Niger, reach far beyond civilian casualties and displacement. It is no secret that rape is an unfortunately common weapon of war, and Niger is no exception. Sexual violence against women is part of Boko Haram’s plundering strategy, and it can provoke psychological and social trauma; women that have been raped are frequently ostracized by their families and neighbors despite it having been against their will. Niger is also unique in that it is the country with the highest fertility and infant mortality rate in the world (with about 7 births per woman and 101 deaths per 1000 births), so the consequences that this reality has on the population are only exacerbated by the violence being experienced there today. It also means that more and more women, young and old, are pregnant and being forced to give birth in the bush or on the streets while they are fleeing from the conflict. Needless to say, these are less than sanitary and clinically sterile conditions for both the mother and her offspring, and the health of both is jeopardized tremendously.

source: {Wikipedia}

Currently, hygiene kits are being dispersed by many aid organizations to the people that are most at risk, which are typically women and their children. It is a short-term solution, though, and is not enough. It is also difficult to reach all of the people that are currently being displaced, as many of them are hiding in the bush. What could, in fact, be more helpful to these individuals is to build wells in as many communities as is possible so that those fleeing can have access to potable water in the next community or village. Wells Bring Hope is a great way for anyone to contribute to the mitigation and the eventual solution to these crises and the consequences they bring. We partner with communities to build wells and work with women to empower them in a society where there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles between them and their self-sufficiency. Any help can be a critical start for the success of someone in Niger, especially to those women that are braving the perils of giving birth outside of a clinic or hospital. Water is where the solution begins.



Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue

On Sunday, we were granted a brief respite from the recent heat wave for our annual Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue. Once again, WBH Founder and President Barbara Goldberg opened up her home and beautiful backyard for the afternoon festivities.

Volunteers chatted and nibbled for a while before sitting down to hear from both Barbara and the man who inspired our cause, Gil Garcetti.

It was a wonderful afternoon of celebration as we recognized the incredible volunteers who are such an integral part of our effort to save lives with safe water.

Marching Towards Progress

by Shelton Owen

Thousands of Niger’s people recently banded together to unite under one common cause-the protest against Boko Haram. The Islamic extremist group, ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015, has continued to launch deadly raids into the country from Nigeria. People from various parts of the country gathered in the capital to support the nation’s army which is combatting the explosive issue. Those marching were not only voicing support, however; they were also voicing a plea. The nation wishes to urge other countries to step in and join the battle, one of security and displacement.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs ranks physiological needs as number one and safety as number two, but for the people of Niger, the two aspects go hand in hand. When women and children, whose main job is to collect fresh water, are being targeted and living in constant fear-their work is hindered. A roadblock for them isn’t just the difference between a little money or wealth, it’s the difference between health or disease contamination, the difference between a meal or starvation.

source: {Wikipedia}

Back in 2014, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls took the internet by storm when Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a northeastern Nigeria boarding school. Unfortunately it took such a large scale act for the rest of the world to turn their heads. But did more heads turn to look than fingers lift to act, specifically of nations abroad? The army of Nigeria and its neighbors, such as Niger, took to action, sadly unsuccessful in finding the school girls, but freeing hundreds of captives along the way. The nation’s army is working vigorously and should be commended for such accomplishments with limited means, but the problem is only hitting new heights in 2016. For example, WorldPost states that over 100 women and girls have blown themselves up since 2014, forced or coerced into serving as suicide bombers. The recent protesters in Niger aimed to bring light to the reality of the situation-these soldiers need reinforcements.

source: {BBC}

It’s evident that this group, and others alike, have a skewed view of women in society. It is not by standing by and remaining silent that change will be enacted, that justice for these women will be sought-it is through action and unification. By contributing to Wells Bring Hope you contribute to empowering these targeted women through education, sanitation, and entrepreneurship. The march in Niger’s capital is a step, but this fight undoubtedly requires a marathon. Let’s get running.


The Demand for Clean Water

by Christine Eusebio

The issue of water has recently become a concern in one of Africa’s wealthiest and most developed nations, South Africa. More and more people from rural villages around the country are moving to the city with the hopes of having a better living situation, so pressure to provide sustainable, clean water for healthy living has increased.

South Africa is home to around 49 million people and is about twice the size of Texas. For many years the country has faced epidemics such as HIV and AIDS. To add to this, water shortage has also recently become an issue.

One of the main reasons this water crisis has spread to South Africa is climate change. According to the thewaterproject.org, rain has not replenished the nation’s water supply as frequently as it used to. One is example is in Durban, which has experienced 20% less rain this year than in the beginning of 2010. As a result, the surrounding cities have begun imposing water restrictions on communities. Another problem on the rise is stolen water; 35% of the cities’ water is provided via illegal connections.

Because of the increasing demand for safe water and the current shortage, many are turning to bottled water as an alternative to tap water. Just the fact that “tap water” is an option in South Africa demonstrates the stark difference between a water shortage in a developed nation and a water crisis in a country like Niger. Indoor plumbing is nonexistant in rural Niger, and the only potential water source is often an open well, which can dry up and is easily contaminated. The people of rural Niger are not facing a choice between tap and bottled water; they are choosing between dehydration and the diseases that can result from consuming contaminated water.


The Lake Chad Basin

by Vanesa Martin

The Lake Chad Basin Commission was established in the 1960’s by four member states—Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon–for the purpose of maintaining the ecosystem and managing the resources of the area, specifically the precious resource of water. The land in the vicinity of the lake was green and fertile, and for years, fishermen made a living off of the diverse catch they could reliably obtain from the depths.

source: {African-volunteer}

Global warming and insecurity rooted in violence have changed this narrative, however. Droughts have become more severe, extensive, and frequent, to the point where the basin has begun to dry up at a crippling rate. The plummeting water levels have had drastic effects on the surrounding communities, with many fishermen beginning to resort to a livelihood that Niger’s poor soil is not fit for—agriculture. However, even agriculture relies largely on water, and Niger has seen scant harvests in recent years. Furthermore, the ongoing barrage of attacks from militant insurgent group Boko Haram have forced many to flee their homes, causing the largest case of displacement currently seen in the African continent. The refugees arrive without water, food, or medicine, and it is not only costly to distribute the necessary aid to them. This influx of people has also begun to put a new strain on the lake and its decreasing water levels.

source: {African-volunteer}

Nevertheless, the Lake Chad Water Charter signed by the Lake Chad Basin Commission is a step in the right direction. With wisdom of foresight, the member states declared that equitable management of water and food resources would be a top prority because security is impossible if these basic needs are not met.

Hopefully, with international support for those suffering at the hands of armed conflict and a hotter and drier climate, these consequences can be mitigated. The drilling of more wells will also be essential for alleviating the strain on the lake. Contribute to Wells Bring Hope to see more long-lasting and immediate change happen in this region.