Help Women, Help the World

by Barbara Goldberg

Gender issues have come into sharp focus in recent years, particularly in Africa. The African Union declared 2016 to be “The Year of Human Rights with a Special Focus on Women’s Human Rights.” Gender was a priority in the Millennium Development Goals and continues to be so in the new Sustainable Development Goals.

However, without the empowerment of women at the grassroots level, the same hardships will continue to exist for women and girls. Legislation will not change what actually happens in the rural villages where we work, although laws protecting and supporting women are critical too.

Why is the work of Wells Bring Hope so profound? It’s because our working model includes the economic empowerment of women in a very tangible and reality-based way. We are the only safe water cause that trains women to start their own small businesses wherever we drill a well. Seeing the results of how we help women bears out why we must continue to support women and consequently the entire family on so many levels.

Improving their financial situation is a big part of it, but equally important is the ability to raise crops with their micro-loans which prevents them from dying of starvation during famines. And famines are occurring with increasing frequency due to global warming.

So, when you help fund a well you are doing the best that you can do to help women and girls in West Africa. Wells Bring Hope was started by women who wanted, to not only save lives with safe water, but equally, to end the burden of women and girls and give women the opportunity to help better the lives of their families.

What is Luxury?

by Barbara Goldberg

I started thinking about the upcoming 7 Gallon Challenge and what might be easy or difficult to cut back on. The easy one for me was fewer flushes a day. Living alone, no one else would be impacted by what sits for a while in my toilet!

Before I actually took the 7 Gallon Challenge, I decided to do a “test market”—going through my day, thinking consciously about my water usage and how it might feel to cut back on certain things. It didn’t take long to discover that the prospect of taking a short shower didn’t feel so great. As I stood under the hot, flowing water for a few minutes, my higher self said, “Enough, turn off the water!” But my body answered, “Don’t you dare!!”

I was luxuriating in the pleasure of a hot shower and didn’t want it to end. I suspect you can relate, yes? But is a hot shower really a “luxury?” For most of us, maybe not. We have ready access to water with the turn of a tap.

For the people in rural West Africa, better known as “the bush,” a hot shower is something most will never experience. I thought of this as I visited villages in Niger for the first time in 2009. We celebrated with people who had just been given a safe water well and their joy could not be contained.

Taking a shower after I came home, this thought struck me: the people who got a well in their village were fortunate for so many reasons, but they will never experience the pleasure of taking a hot shower. There is no plumbing in these remote villages, no hot water, no way to heat sufficient quantities of water for a shower.

A hot shower—such a small thing in comparison to the live-saving benefits of safe water—but yet it is still something these people will never have. It made me realize how fortunate I am to have been born in a developed country and to have, among the many good things in my life, the ability to luxuriate in a hot shower.


Politics in Niger, Not So Different from America

By Shelton Owen

{source: Joe Penney/Reuters}

Niger, West Africa is a democracy, albeit, a struggling one since it achieved independence in 1960. Since that time, its government has been rocky, to say the least, and the current election for a new president is a positive step.

It mirrored our Republican Party’s weeding out of candidates until two front-runners emerged from the crowded pool of fifteen candidates. One of them is the current President Mahamadou Issoufou and the other is Hama Amadou.

Roughly 7.5 million people cast votes in February's election, but as it turned out, neither side can begin the celebrations just yet. Though Issoufou and Amadou led the pack, neither hit the magic 50% of votes needed to secure the election.

Issoufou racked up 48.4 percent of the votes, missing the mark by a mere 167,000. Amadou trailed behind at 17.4%, but was in fact the next closest candidate . A runoff is due to be held on March 20th. We will be watching closely to see who takes the reigns.

Amadou is currently running his campaign from behind bars, but his faithful supporters conducted campaign rallies in his absence. President Issoufou made confident claims he would deliver a “knockout” blow to opponent.

He lobbied for a second term on the platform of rejuvenating the economy and protecting the country against attacks from terrorist groups. Niger has long been a bastion of peace compared to its neighbor to the south–Nigeria, besieged by Boko Haram and from Al Qaeda presenting the bigger threat.

As Niger continues to secure its democratic way of life, Wells Bring Hope’s contribution in improving health and overall quality of life is critical. Through your support we can all contribute to making Niger a better place to live.

Seven Gallon Challenge

By Claire Bronchick

The average rural African uses just five to seven gallons of water per day, while the average American uses between 80 and 100 gallons each day! To try to get a better understanding of the severe water stress experienced by many rural Africans, Chadwick School’s Wells Bring Hope Club will be taking the Seven Gallon Challenge during the week of March 7th. Each day, we’ll be able to use only seven gallons of water for all daily activities (e.g. showering, washing hands, brushing your teeth, etc), and we’ll be sharing and reflecting on our experience via Facebook and Instagram.

By limiting daily water use and documenting the experience, we (and the people we share our experiences with) will learn how little seven gallons of water actually is. We’ll also become more aware of the difficulty that many West Africans face in getting adequate amounts of water each day, and we will learn to appreciate access to water rather than take it for granted.

(from left to right: Kaiden, Katie, Andie, Charlie, and Claire}

The members of Chadwick’s Wells Bring Hope Club would like to challenge all WBH donors and volunteers to do a version of the Seven Gallon Challenge in honor of World Water Day on March 22nd. We challenge everyone who believes in the importance of saving lives with safe water to attempt to limit your water usage for one day or just track the amount of water that you use and then donate $.50 for every gallon that you go over the limit to Wells Bring Hope. Film yourself sharing the results of your Seven Gallon Challenge and then challenge your friends and family to do the challenge as well.

Wells Bring Hope Seven Gallon Challenge

For one day, attempt to limit water usage to seven gallons of water a day, which is a high estimate of how much the average African uses in a day.

For every gallon over seven that you use, donate $.50 to Wells Bring Hope.

Film yourself sharing the results of the challenge. At the end of the video, call on a friend or two to take the challenge too. Post the video to social media using the hashtag #7gallon challenge. Don’t forget to tag the friends that you challenged!

By limiting daily water use and documenting the experience, both participants and the people they share their experiences with will learn how little seven gallons of water actually is, and they’ll be more of aware of the massive amounts of water Western countries consume on a daily basis.

By sharing the experience of participating in the challenge and calling on others to take it as well, we can raise awareness of the global water crisis and what Wells Bring Hope is doing to save lives with safe water.
• From the second you wake up, carry a journal/paper with you so that you can write down all water consumption.
• Also, write down any thoughts/feelings you have during the day about the challenge so you can share them later!
• Do not forget to drink water! It is vital to your health to drink at least a half gallon of water everyday, especially if you are doing any physical activity.

Water usage for common activities:


Microfinance Training for Women – A Passionate Belief

{From left to right: Kate Cusimano, Ida Harding, Esperance Klugan, Barbara Goldberg, Jamie Gates, and Jan Doak}

Earlier this year, members of Wells Bring Hope’s Board and Advisory Board had the opportunity to meet with Esperance Klugan, Director of Operations, West Africa Region and former Director of World Vision, Niger. Esperance has a unique background, combining the worlds of finance and humanitarian help for women.

Prior to taking on the position of Director of World Vision Niger, he had fifteen years of experience in establishing and managing microfinance programs for women. It is something he strongly believes in. “I know that it works. I’ve seen a number of mothers’ lives transformed through microfinance where we have drilled a well in a village. We free the women’s time, a lot can be done.”

The microfinance program for women is based on the idea that giving microloans is not enough. Women must be educated in how to handle money and in the basic principles of business. By forming savings groups, women are giving training and guidance on how to start their own small businesses. They each contribute a small amount of money weekly, and pool the resources, loaning to each other. With this support system, women are able to practice with their own money and build confidence in their abilities.

As these women expand their businesses and repay their loans, they don’t just improve the economic circumstances of their families, they help to transform lives throughout their entire village, providing real hope for their futures. Esperance has seen this first hand, “I’ve seen women transformed to the point where you go to the same community, talk to the same women, but they are different women, confident, and proud of their accomplishment. It’s extraordinary. And husbands take great pride in what their wives are doing and the whole family dynamic changes for the better. They are equals, partners.”

Esperance plans to expand the microfinance program using the savings group model, to seven countries over the next five years. “This will affect thousand of villages…water alone is good, but it’s not enough. When people have safe, clean water to drink it’s good, [but] it’s just the beginning. It doesn’t address the issue of malnutrition fully. Click here for more information about microfinance support for women in Niger, West Africa .

Well # 1,000 in Niger

by Kate Cusimano

On November 11, 2015 Brigi Rafini, the Prime Minister of Niger commemorated the drilling of the 1,000th well by our partner, World Vision. Wells Bring Hope is responsible for over one-third of those wells, having funded wells that are currently serving a quarter million people.

In his speech, the Prime Minister specifically addressed his thanks to the Hilton Foundation for having initiated the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation program in Niger. David and Dana Dornsife were also thanked for their assistance in acquiring the first drilling machines for WV Niger and their continued funding of wells.

He singled out our founder by saying, “And finally, to Barbara Goldberg of Wells Bring Hope for the passion she bears for Niger and her commitment to alleviating rural women in Niger from the drudgery of water.”

As an organization, we could not prouder of Barbara and all that she has accomplished since founding Wells Bring Hope in 2008. She has tirelessly championed this cause, dedicating her life to bringing safe water to the people of rural Niger, and we are so thrilled that the Prime Minister of Niger himself also recognizes her incredible contributions. Congratulations, Barbara! Now, on to the next 1,000 wells!

Toxic Water, Sick Kids…Right Here in America

By Barbara Goldberg

{source: Click on Detroit}

The cover story in this week’s Time magazine is “The Poisoning of an American City.” When something makes the cover of a publication that’s been in existence for almost 100 years, you know it’s serious.

In the case of Flint, Michigan, it’s about incompetent leaders who betrayed their city when they decided to draw its water from the Flint River instead of buying Lake Huron water from Detroit in order to save money. Residents in this ailing, majority African American, industrial city started experienced burning skin, hand tremors, hair loss, even seizures. On January 20, they declared a state of emergency and the National Guard starting distributing bottled water.

In Niger, West Africa, death and disease from unsafe water happens every day, not because of the incompetence of their village chiefs, but because they simply lack a source of clean water. The clean water they so desperately need is 250-300 ft underground. But they can’t reach it, not by digging.

{source: Gil Garcetti}

That’s where Wells Bring Hope comes in—drilling wells to bring safe water to a place in the world where people are used to babies and young children dying from contaminated water, water that is shared with animals. For a moment, just imagine yourself as a mother living with the constant fear that the water you give your child could kill him? When you visit Niger, you come away saying, “Thank God I was born in America.” When President Obama visited Michigan he said, “I know that if I were a parent…I would be beside myself that my kids’ health could be at risk.”

A state of emergency exists every day in Niger and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. When you think that all it takes is $5,600 to bring safe water to a whole village, roughly 650 people, why wouldn’t you donate a few bucks? Or, better yet, commit to donating a few bucks every month. Just $30 will bring safe water to one person for a lifetime. It’s a drop in the bucket that will save lives.


The Meaning of Poverty

by Christine Eusebio

What comes to mind when we think of being poor?

Is it not having enough money? Not having the most expensive car? Or even not having the right name brand clothes? In West Africa, the definition is very simple.

The ten poorest countries in the world lie within this region of one of the largest continents on Earth. Seven nations in this area are currently troubled with political and social issues, and have been devastated by harsh climate changes. Niger is one of the most severely affected of those countries.

According to Oxford University’s poverty index, 92 percent of Niger’s population is trapped in what is called “multi-dimensional” poverty, the highest level in 109 countries studied. Niger was also ranked dead last on the UN’s 2015 Human Development Index.

To make matters worse, thanks to global warming, drought has created yet another crisis. Devastated crops have left little to eat for the 6 million people already suffering from food scarcity.

A river runs dry in Niger – {source: Bread for the World}

In Niger, many villagers cut back on meals during the “lean season”, which is a time when food stocks run low before harvest season, and the drought has extended this period. As a result, families go to bed hungry and malnourishment is rampant.

Many Nigerien mothers suffer unimaginable losses, watching as their young children starve to death. According to Save the Children, Niger has consistently been at or near the bottom of its rankings of the worst places in the world to be a mother. Many of these women wake up each day unable to feed their children.

{source: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection}

By 2040, 55 million people will live in Niger, considering the difficulties feeding the present population, the situation is likely to get worse.

It doesn’t have to be this way. When a well is drilled, the people in the village have access to a safe water source, but the benefits go far beyond this. Villagers are taught drip farming techniques, and the grey water is used to water vegetable gardens that supplement nutrition in times of famine. The food that these gardens provide is just one more life-saving benefit of a safe water well.


More for Christmas

By Nicholas Baldry

{Source: Hideya HAMANO}

It is highly likely that you are getting ready for Christmas just now. I know I am. Despite being an atheist I'm, frankly, very willing to get involved in any festival that revolves around eating vast quantities of food. Heck, I'm not American either, but come Thanksgiving I can be found shoveling vast amounts of turkey into my face like a castaway who has happened to drift ashore on the fourth Thursday in November after months at sea.

If you do celebrate Christmas, in all likelihood Christmas dinner is one of the most luxurious meals you will eat all year. You make an effort with what goes on your table. No oven ready pizza for you this festive day. Some quality meat; a gargantuan turkey, maybe a beautifully glazed ham, perhaps a gloriously marbled bit of beef or if you are of the vegetarian persuasion then a nut roast prepared in a creative manner designed to make you not miss the other stuff.

It's not just main dishes. Tables groan under the weight of mountains of sides. Desserts are piled so high you can hardly see your elderly grandmother on the other side of the table. Chocolates – yes, I know you said you'd only have one but it's mid morning and half the box is gone, how did that happen? Good wine, of course. Luxury! Luxury! And more luxury!

By the time you've troughed through this gastronomic orgy, no doubt you'll be feeling more than a little corpulent and perhaps a little thirsty. You will most likely waddle over to the faucet for a glass of water. And there it is. The greatest luxury on your Christmas dinner table. Looking innocuous among the shredded remains of the feast is a glass of clean, refreshing water, one that you can refill at any time. It's not just a Christmas miracle, it's something we look upon as a right, not the privilege it really is.

So if you too wind up eating the shame- inducing quantities I intend to eat, please think of those who do not experience feasts like Christmas or even clean water to drink. So this holiday season, please give the gift of clean water. Happy Holidays!

Heat Wave in Effect

By Jessica Isaac

{Source: Jessica Isaac}

I woke up this morning to the news that my daily routine may start getting a bit more challenging. See, I like to put on my running shoes and hit the pavement for a jog as early as possible, mostly to avoid heat exhaustion, but also to take advantage of that sweet spot between being awake, yet not alert enough to talk myself out of it.

Here was the news I received from the National Weather Service: “Excessive Heat Warning remains in effect. Maximum temperatures will reach 102 to 108 degrees in many locations in the valleys of Los Angeles.”

It was 8am and the temperature was already 90 degrees and steadily climbing. If I was going to stay true to my cardio commitment, I would need to be prepared. Surely, I should drink at least double my morning intake of 12 ounces of water, so I filled up my Brita filter pitcher as I guzzled my first glass.

{Source: Enid Martindale}

Then there was the air conditioning. I should make sure the AC was on so I would cool down quickly before my post-run shower. Check. With all my ducks in a row, it was time to muster up the motivation and brave the heat. 30 minutes later, feeling sweaty but accomplished, I resumed my usual workday in a comfortable 76 degrees with a tall glass of cold water.

So why am I telling you this? It’s not an attempt to brag about my “disciplined” exercise routine or my central AC.

It’s easy to forget that certain comforts we’ve come to expect as US citizens are not naturally occurring. Rather, they are luxuries that the whole of the human race is not afforded. This morning, the National Weather Service advised me to, “take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside [and] when possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening [and] drink plenty of water.”

What if a strenuous 4-6 mile walk in the direct sunlight was the only way anyone in my household could drink water? What if I didn’t have a cool, indoor space to recover when I began to overheat?

According to World Vision, during Niger’s hot season temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees Celsius (that’s 122 degrees Fahrenheit!). Nigerien women make this blazing 4-6 miles trek everyday with heavy buckets of water just to provide their families with barely enough water to survive the day.

If you are living in comfortable temperatures or enjoying a hydrating beverage in these continually sundrenched weeks, try not to take it for granted. Consider donating to help drill a well in a rural village in Niger that lacks easy access to a clean water source.