It must be said that distance is a funny old thing. What we perceive as distant can vary by such great degrees that at times it can get a little ridiculous.
Recently, several stories have appeared in the press that mentioned charities and their dishonest fundraising efforts. One such story, released by ABC news, reported that a leukemia charity used less than one percent of its donations on its patients or programs.
I’m happy to report that Wells Bring Hope’s water projects in Niger are all going well, all fully operational, putting an end to death and disease from contaminated water. 328 wells have been funded with four more to come within the week.
On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day, commemorating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future, all while reflecting on the inequities which still demand change.
International Women’s Day is a day for the world to reflect on the role on women and an occasion to congratulate all women around the world. At Wells Bring Hope we are honored to work with the women of Niger and to empower them through microfinance programs that transform their lives.
Two-thirds of Niger is covered by vast swathes of the Sahara desert. It’s hydro-climatic and geographic characteristics create difficult conditions for the country’s population of nearly 18 million. Droughts are common, food security issues are endemic, and are further exacerbated by the increasing arrival of refugees fleeing northern Nigeria and northern Mali. These conditions, when coupled with prevalent infectious disease and one of the lowest sanitation coverage rates in the world, leave the West African nation of Niger with some of the highest rates of malnutrition and mortality in the world. Niger, a country roughly twice the size of France, is the poorest country on earth.
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.
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.
ut 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.
Saturday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. Over the last couple of decades the UN, who first officially observed this day in 1977, has promoted different themes each year. This year’s theme is ‘Equality for Women is Progress for All.’ This theme can certainly be recognized in Niger, and it is only fitting to look at a Nigerien woman who embodies the truth of this statement. Hadijatou Mani Koraou is an inspiring Nigerien figure who managed to break free from the shackles of slavery and gain her independence, making a better life for herself and her family. Crucially, her case shows not just the importance of personal independence, but also the necessity of financial independence for women.