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Wells and Water (stay with me) - Erin Dean
January 2nd, 2006
08:29 pm


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Wells and Water (stay with me)
I've mentioned before that I'm really interested in working to eliminate extreme poverty and AIDS. I don’t remember exactly how the idea came to mind but I think it was a combination of an article I'd read and Elisabeth's offer to make a donation in my name for Christmas. The idea was to focus my contributions and interest on building wells in Africa. The lack of fresh water means that people (mostly women) walk for miles each day (often making multiple trips) to get drinking water-- often from contaminated, stagnant sources. Actually ‘sources’ is the wrong word-- that makes it sounds like the water is 'coming' from somewhere, but it's not--it just stands there cultivating disease. So then people drink this water which often makes them sick--especially bad if your immune system isn't up for fighting off dieses. Plus all that time spent walking means that people are missing out on education and opportunities to earn a living.

Check out this from a woman who visited some villages in Africa:

I follow Joseph and his grandfather to their home. It’s a hut made from mud and cow dung. The floor is dirt. There's a single bed for four children. the two eldest boys sleep on the bed, and Joseph's two cousins settle on the ground. The grandfather sleeps in a separate shelter that's much worse than this one. It's just horrible. Domesticate dogs in America live better than Joseph and his family do here.
walked with Joseph, the women and the other children to a small stagnant pond filled with mud, feces, algae and scum. In it lurked the invisible, lethal diseases. I'm a pretty adventurous person, but I wouldn't have stepped in the pond, let alone drunk the water. I filled my big bucket and put a cloth on my head. A woman helped me place the bucket on my head cloth. I held the sloshing container of disease-filled, bacteria-ridden, smelly fluid and walked with the others back to the village. It was hard. My neck ached, my arms lost all strength. Step by step I remembered that Joseph and the rest of the children and women in his community did this four times a day.
Just beneath our hard path and my dusty Keens was clean water. The village simply needed a well. Without it, they have no choice but to carry contaminated water, which is slowly killing them. I was humbled by the strengths of these people.
I couldn’t help but compared Joseph's village with Millicent's which had been like Joseph's just a year ago. Earlier this year, Millicent's village in western Kenya worked in partnership with us to build a clean water well. Last week she and the women of her village rushed up to us to show us their smooth, hydrated skin, their clean clothes, their tearful smiles, their songs and their joy. Young women and children freed from daily walks for water were now in school. Water borne diseases and illnesses have been slowed. For the first time, they were free to live healthily and abundantly.

So there I was all moved by this cause and i start thinking about setting big goals like raising thousands of dollars for this cause. And this got me thinking about the point of fundraising--Should I be asking other people to give money to a cause if I could still give more? And what about fundraisers like running and walking events-- why would you want to sponsor me to run--wouldn’t it be better to just make a donation directly to the cause? Or is it just about getting money out of people who want to be timed while they run? When I talked with people about this they suggested that those events are about a) telling other people about a cause so that more people will care and b) putting together small contributions that people might not otherwise make because they're thought to be insignificant.

Now stay with me.

So I started brainstorming ways to tell other people about this cause. [I stopped after this first idea though so it wasn't much of a brainstorming session.] Anyway I thought that starting Jan 2 I would only drink water for a month and use that as an opportunity to tell other people about the need to build wells to provide access to clean water. I'm painting a water bottle to prompt these conversations. It seemed like a really glorious idea, but today I woke up dreading it. And then I realized this afternoon that I can't go out for coffee or make chai at home. And when I play ultimate I'll have to bring bottles of water instead of just using propel.

But having just written this and gone through my first day successfully I’m pretty excited about it. (Even if its going to be harder than i thought). I’m excited to donate money to this cause and to raise awareness and maybe even other people who will want to invest in this as well.

So there you have it. Feel free to start a dialog with me anytime about this stuff!

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:January 3rd, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)


great idea... think of fundraising as a way to invite others into a shared adventure... if you can give more, do that. but it's no reason not to invite the support of others. :)

btw, thanks for the idea about blog feed services. i signed up for feedblitz. i'm still going into the site to check for updates instead of waiting on the daily email, but it's still a bit better than going to individual blogs. i feel my life simplifying... :)

thanks, true blue friend. :)
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
Wow, what a great idea! I hope you have success with your cause.
Date:January 4th, 2006 03:27 am (UTC)


This is a really great idea. My downstairs neighbor is an environmental engineering grad student, and she specializes in water. Last quarter she went to Africa for a couple of weeks and led a team to build water purification filters to be placed in schools there. That trouble is that even if the water itself is not contaminated, the containers that they transport it and/or store it in often are. This way, they can hae filtration devices to purify the water immediately before consumtion. Much more efficient.

I'll have to think hard about joining in on your only-drinking-water thing...it's a fabulous idea but I'd sure miss my morning coffee. After working at a coffee shop for three years it's really tough to do without. I should know; I've done it for Lent a couple of times.

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