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!
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.
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.
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.
The issue of contaminated drinking water isn’t some far off problem, only applicable to third world countries and those in poverty-it’s right here at home in the U.S. The residents of Cambria County, Pennsylvania now know this statement to be true. Last week, a letter was sent out by the Patton Borough Water Department informing customers of a contaminant (trihalomethane) in their water supply. Customers expressed a mix of confusion, concern, and anger because the occurrence wasn’t a one time thing; it has been prevalent for seven years.
A sizeable portion of the Nigerian population works within or near the lucrative oil drilling business that operates along the Niger Delta. Enormous, transnational corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Shell have faced widespread opposition from various players internationally given their reprehensible reputation for polluting the waters of the expansive river, which is a drinking and bathing source for many impoverished families. Some of the results of this contamination have been a concerning rise in birth defects within areas in the river’s vicinity, as well as the inability to farm and fish near the water. Moreover, the community around the delta reaps none of the profits that hugely profitable corporations such as Exxon Mobil makes; electricity, for example, is still essentially non-existent despite the fact that Exxon Mobil was the second most profitable corporation of 2014.
I started thinking about the upcoming 7 Gallon Challenge for World Water Day 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!!”
For the week of March 7, Chadwick School’s Wells Bring Hope Club will be doing the Seven Gallon Challenge! 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. They’ll also become more aware of the difficulty that many West Africans face in getting adequate amounts of water each day, and will learn to appreciate access to water rather than take it for granted.
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.
The 1,000th well was drilled in Niger.