Water Matters

The latest on our work and those supporting it

Delays In Sierra Leone Due to Severe Drought

By now, you may be wondering…

“What’s going on with the water project I funded in Sierra Leone?”

It’s been a number of months since your donation was made.  And at that time, we let you know a project was soon to be getting underway in Sierra Leone.  As you may have noticed, some of those project’s “completion dates” have come and gone.

Frankly, we expected to be quite a bit farther along than we are on these water projects.  We’re disappointed that there have been delays and we want to share with you the reasons behind them.

At The Water Project, we work hard to be transparent – open – about everything we do.  We’re glad our partners are too.  Our friends on the ground in Sierra Leone have been incredibly helpful in sharing all the facts with us.  This past week they gave us a very detailed update about our shared work.

Because of everyone’s commitment to “get it right”, even with the delays, we’re more confident than ever that these will prove to be excellent water projects.  Each will benefit a great number of people – for a very long time.

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Helping Others Locally and Globally

Spring 2011 is just beginning to take hold in many parts of the US, pushing cold and wet away, and bringing flowers and green grass.  With it, spring brings encouragement and hope of things new.  In the last week we’ve heard about two families that are bringing hope and encouragement, like spring, to more than a village in Africa.  They are bringing it to one another as well.

At Rockford High School, Junior Makenzie Connor (‘Kenzie’ to friends and family) doesn’t just do good for others 7000 miles away from Rockford… she does good for people in her own backyard.

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One Person’s Loss is Another’s Gain

We got a great email a few weeks ago from Stephen Lasky, Vice President of Business Planning and Analysis at Sephora.  Stephen had undertaken a huge goal that would result in better health for himself and provide an inspiration to Sephora employees.  Being the ‘others’ minded person that Stephen is, he wanted to tie that accomplishment to a cause … the cause of bringing clean, safe water to those without.  We could try to tell Stephen’s story, but why not read it directly from Stephen himself …

“In August of 2009 after a lifetime of battling obesity, I had a moment of clarity that the time had come.  At 5’5” and 251 pounds I started a journey to change my life. At that time I was taking medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and gout.  In September of 2010, 13 months after I began my journey I had dropped 100 pounds and was free from all medications.  It was in September 2010 that I tried for the first time in my life to run a mile without stopping.  After running for 5 minutes on the treadmill I felt pretty good and was encouraged to keep going…15 minutes later I had run my first mile.  One month later I decided I needed closure to the process I started a year earlier; that closure would be signing up for a ½ marathon.

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Sand dams and other miracles

In some areas of Kenya – like where I live in Coast Province, finding clean water is almost impossible. With little rain and salty groundwater, people travel for miles with jerry cans to find fresh springs or river beds where they can dig for water.

For us, the question is often not “Do we want to help?”, but rather “Can we work out a way to help?”. And by implication, do we have the partners who can work in such challenging conditions? As you may be aware from earlier posts, part of my work this year is about partner development. I’m currently on the hunt for organisations that The Water Project can partner with in the future. This is a tricky assignment for me, and three months in to my year here, I’m realising that it is a slow process. It’s important we take the time to hear the inside story and make sure we do due diligence. We need to make sure we are giving our donors genuine value for money, as well as serving communities in the best and most sustainable manner possible.

To date, the partners we have are ‘well’ focused (excuse the pun!), in that they base their implementations on boreholes or hand dug wells, but as I’ve mentioned, this approach is not always appropriate. As such, another focus of this year is to try and diversify the approaches we fund. Each development situation, each community, is different and  it’s vital that we (and our partners) are able to think creatively when tackling WASH issues.

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