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World Water Day 2013 newsletter

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Hello Everyone,worldwaterday
As you may have heard, today, March 22nd is World Water Day!
When Drop in the Bucket formed back in 2006, 1.1 billion people were without access to clean water. Today, that number has gone down to 783 million. This positive change proves that together we are making amazing progress, but as we all know, we still have a long way to go.
One high school, St. Gabriel, located in Concord Township, Ohio, reached out to us recently after reading about Drop in the Bucket. The students of St.Gabriel’s decided to participate in WWD by planning an overnight fasting fundraiser in their gymnasium starting this weekend! The students are choosing to fast because they understand how difficult it is for children in Africa to get fed properly everyday and want to show their dedication and care by going without food themselves. St.Gabriel hopes to earn $6000 to build a well at the Obule Primary School in Uganda through this fundraiser and other initiatives they are planning.
After hearing about this, the students of the Obule Primary School in Soroti, Uganda were completely blown away that high schoolers here would go out of their way in this manner to support them. They asked how they could show their appreciation to the American students so we gave them paper and colored pencils and suggested they draw pictures. They gave us pictures of their lives and families that we will bring back and give the students of St Gabriel’s. The Obule pupils told us the idea of students in America going without food for them deeply touched them and they felt extremely honored and grateful.
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These students from Ohio chose a great way to remind us that we are all so similar. Each one of us that is alive on this planet today is in this together and everyday is a chance for you to share in this connection. If the task of helping 783 million people get clean water seems daunting, you can simply begin by helping one.
Thank you for your amazing support!
Donate, fundraise, spread the word! Ending the cycle of poverty starts with just one Drop. Are you ready to be part of the solution?

Events News

World Water Day 2013

Almost 1 billion people on the planet lack access to safe drinking water.
Dirty water and poor sanitation kill more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
Every 20 seconds a child dies from a lack of clean water or sanitation.
More people have access to a cell phone than a toilet.
Do we just accept this or is it time to do something?
It’s 2013 and the human race has reached amazing heights in technology. We can explore another planet’s surface and even assess its water conditions! But as advanced as we are, how is it possible that one in every eight people on our own planet lacks this most basic resource?
Do we just accept this or is it time to do something?
I used to read facts like these and think ‘I wish someone would do something about this,’ until I realized that I AM someone and the time to help is now.
March 22nd is World Water Day. It’s just one day, but that’s a great place to start.
So how can YOU help?
There are plenty of ways to participate in World Water Day. Why not plan a World Water Day party, or just invite some friends over for dinner? Maybe show them this video.
then encourage them to post it to Facebook and other social media sites.
Read them some of these water facts and then make a donation or even start a fundraiser
Let your friends know that you feel strongly about the clean water crisis and that access to clean water is a human right. You can be a voice in your community.
If that’s not possible how about sharing this video post it on Facebook or Twitter. Let your friends know that clean water is important to you and that you feel everybody deserves the right to drink clean water.
Drop in the Bucket has a few things coming up and we would love you to join us!
March 15th: President and co-founder of Drop, John Travis, speaks in Fountain Valley at 8:30AM. 
This World Water Day event is hosted by Tetra-tech in Fountain Valley, Orange County. The event will include breakfast and a tour of their facilities. There is no cost and you will leave with a better understanding of what our world is currently facing in terms of the world wide water crisis.
March 21st: Cocktails For Causes World Water Day Event. 8:00PM. 
Where: Whiskey Blue Bar At W the Hotel Westwood – 930 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, California 90024
Event information: Cocktails For Causes invites you to their Annual World Water Day Event to support Drop In The Bucket, a non profit organization that builds wells and sanitation systems at schools in Africa. Guests will enjoy music by DJ Tiffany and violin virtuoso, DJ Manifesto. John Travis, President and Co-founder of Drop In The Bucket will also be addressing the audience. Admission is free but we encourage everyone to donate what they can to this fine organization (suggested donation $30/person).
Music by: DJ Tiffany and Violinist DJ Manifesto
Guest Speaker: John Travis, President and Co-founder of Drop In The Bucket
Buy your tickets and show your support for clean water for all by clicking this link
March 23rd: Radio Disney hosted Run/Walk in El Segundo.
The day after World Water Day, we’re putting on an event with Radio Disney in Los Angeles. It will be a walk/run in El Segundo that we are expecting a large crowd for. There will be a Drop in the Bucket presentation at the event with a speaker and we will have a table set up with merchandise, sign-up sheets, stickers, wristbands, and other goodies. Come by and say hi, we’d love to meet you!
If we can explore another planet, isn’t it time we made sure everybody on this planet has access to something as basic as clean water?


Obey Awareness Program

Founded in 2007, the Obey Awareness Program, operated by Obey Clothing designs, began as a way that artist, designer, and humanitarian Shepard Fairey could support causes he believes in by selling specially designed merchandise and donating 100% of the money raised from that merchandise to hand picked organizations and their causes.

Shepard is a strong believer that clean water is a human right and this year Drop in the Bucket was honored by being one of only two causes chosen for the 2013 season. This year’s other organization is Jail Guitar Doors which provides musical instruments to incarcerated people.

We are extremely honored to have the support of Shepard and everyone at Obey Clothing and are very excited to be able to see these great designs turn into clean water and toilets at schools in Africa. To pick up your stylish shirts please visit Obey Clothing’s online store today!


Beads that transform lives

Decades of war in northern Uganda left the region impoverished and its inhabitants in a severe state of shock. Compounded with high illiteracy rates and inability to access education, Ugandans are often unable to financially support themselves in a world where education equates opportunity. Although Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), are no longer active in the region, the shadow of their reign of terror still looms over northern Ugandans who must now pull themselves out of poverty.
Rather than focusing on simply dispensing aid, several organizations took a different, more direct approach and worked alongside the people living in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps, establishing beading programs enabling the locals to finally have their own source of income. Beading programs teach local women how to construct jewelry from old magazines, which they, in turn, can sell for profit. These programs provide amazing opportunities for women who lack the literacy skills to work in other fields. These beads provide a source of financial independence, enabling them to feed their families and be able to afford their children’s school fees, thereby (hopefully) cutting the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. At Drop in the Bucket we believe education is one of the major ways to break the cycle of poverty, and we are happy that selling these beads may make that happen.
All of the beads are unique and hand made in northern Uganda. To purchase yours please go to our online store.

Stacey's Blog

Sister Sidonia Aman Tong

Camboni Primary and Secondary School in Aweil Town was the location of one of the wells we recently repaired. The school was constructed by the Catholic Church, in the 1970s, but they are no longer funding it and the government has taken over.   While we were there observing the work, I met the principal, Antonia Adhel.   I was impressed that a woman was holding in such a prominent position, which is rare around here.    She was also beautifully dressed in the most vibrant African fabrics and was extremely outgoing.  I am always interested in talking about strategies for keeping the girls in school and knew for sure that Antonia would have something to share.
She told me that this school had graduated some of the most prominent women in the country, including the State Speaker for the House of Representatives and the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.  But she said I should really meet her aunt Sister Sidonia Aman Tong, who founded the school and was now in her 90s.  Little did I know that Sister Sidonia is a legend in Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
We scheduled a meeting for 10AM on Saturday.  When I arrived Sister Sidonia was bright and ready to talk.  She looked like she was in her 60s and had a mind to match.   Her English was better than most and she had a sweetness that is rare in a war-torn area.
She began telling me her story.  She was the first black Sudanese nun and it had been no easy task.  The story was long and beautiful but basically in the late 30s Italian Missionaries came to Aweil and set up a school and she was determined to go.  She wanted to get an education but not only that, she wanted to be a nun.  The Sisters had such personal pride and she was extremely drawn to that.  But it was unheard of around here to do something like that – everybody gets married and has children!!  And she was very beautiful, with only one sister.  So her family was relying on her beauty to bring a large dowry of one hundred cows, which her brothers and cousins would also to use to marry.
Sidonia went to the school every chance she got and eventually the nuns taught her to cook and began paying her a small amount to prepare their meals.   Finally her brothers came and demanded that if she stay in school that the Bishop must pay her dowry.   Sidonia agreed to pay her own dowry with her money from cooking and continued going with school.
She completed school and officially became a nun in 1942.  Being the first black nun in Sudan, she met with much resistance.  This was not considered appropriate in the culture.   Ultimately she settled in Aweil and started running the Camboni.
Her mind had been opened up to so much and she knew that the village girls would also benefit from school.   She convinced the Catholic Church to buy her a truck and began going village-to-village bringing the girls back to her school, telling the parents that an educated girl world get 1000-cow dowry!!   (I LOVE THS WOMAN!)

During the war, the soldiers from the North occupied Aweil.  Although Sister Sidonia kept the school open, they were constantly harassed and threatened by Sudan soldiers.  One time she was taken from the school at gunpoint and taken to the barracks. The soldiers threatened her life and insisted she stopped teaching the children English and that she only taught them Arabic.  She refused and told them they would have to kill her before she stopped teaching English. Despite the threats she continued teaching the children English, as well as Dinka, their tribal language and Arabic. Somehow she knew somehow that the ability to speak English would be important for their futures, and she was right. English is now the national language of South Sudan.
The soldiers did many things to harass the school, including taking the school uniforms at one point, leaving some children naked.  But Sister Sidonia said she was never afraid of their guns and taught the children to be courageous.  When the Antonov bombers would come, she would tell the children not to run but to lie down flat and be strong.
I could have stayed all day listening to her beautiful courageous stories but I could tell she was growing tired.  The long struggle that ended with the secession of South Sudan was fought by many people from many different walks of life, who knew that one of the bravest would be a nun.

Stacey's Blog

Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness

Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness are big words around this region these days.  Disaster preparedness refers to unpredictable events like drought and floods.
I experienced it during the dry season last winter when the schools in Northern Bahr el Ghazal closed down so families could migrate to swamps in search of water.    But this time I saw the opposite side of the disaster.  Annually, 100,000 households in the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal are affected by seasonal flooding.   Crops are destroyed, causing a further strain on the increasing population, with so many coming back from the north.
When I arrived this time, Aweil was in a state of emergency from intense flooding. Violent storms came every other night and the communities were completely vulnerable in their flimsy, exposed houses.   Seventy-eight percent of the population lives in small huts that collapse under the pressure.
Our team had been sending regular updates about the emergency and when I arrived many people had begun relocating onto the roadside, away from the rising waters.
The resiliency of these communities is amazing.  People are somehow able to remain friendly as they help each other move their families and meager belongings to higher ground.
Life is already a struggle, without the added stress of disasters.   According to official NBeG Strategic Work Plan 2012-2015.
31% of the population has to walk for more than 30 minutes one-way to collect drinking water.
13% have to walk more than one hour.
58% of the population use firewood or grass as the primary source of lighting
30% have no lighting.
97% of the population uses firewood or charcoal as the primary fuel for cooking.
And a staggering <b>96% of the population </b>does not have access to any toilet facility.
With open defecation commonly practiced, there is a huge risk of disease outbreaks such as typhoid and cholera, from the contaminated floodwater.
While most of the aid community was responding to the emergency by relocating families and distributing food, our team recognized the risky hygienic situation and immediately began an additional campaign of School Led Total Sanitation in the 11 schools we were already working.   Each of the schools has an enrollment of between 800 and 1200 due to the large number of returnees from the north.   We knew we needed to reinforce some serious sanitation messages, in order for these children to avoid contracting some dangerous diseases from the contaminated floodwater.
We spent a week at each school going class by class with sanitation messages.  We worked closely with the Inspector of Schools who was thrilled that we were able to assist.  We encouraged the children to use the latrines and stressed the importance of keeping things as clean as possible, explaining that the water is contaminated.    We emphasized the importance of hand washing and boiling their drinking water.   As usual, the children were very receptive to these messages.   Their young minds are open, eager and interested.  School is a wonderful place to begin instilling these important concepts.  And by starting young, hopefully these ideas remain with the children throughout their lives.   Providing clean water is just a band-aid if you are not promoting hygienic practices and safe methods of keeping the water clean for consumption.  It’s easy to take for granted that the water coming from our tap is clean.  But out here there are many ways of contaminating clean well water, after it’s pumped and before it’s consumed.   Our teams are dedicated to ensuring that doesn’t happen.
One afternoon we ran into a local boy named Ngor Garang Tong, a 5th grader at Salva Kiir Primary School, one of the schools we were working in.  He had a small after-school business of shining shoes and said he uses his money to help his mom feed his six siblings.   He told us he is trying to save more money so he can build his family a safe and secure house.  Ngor said he loves school and attends every day, without missing.   His favorite class is English.   He told us when he grows up he is going to be governor or community leader.

Stacey's Blog

International Day of the Girl

Today is the first-ever International Day of the Girl.   Even here in Uganda we are hearing that the Empire State Building in New York City is being lit up pink in tribute.  It’s so encouraging that the global community is taking on this important issue!
Today UNICEF South Sudan issued a call to action against child marriage, one of the major challenges facing young girls in this region.
Girls around here are routinely married off as soon as they reach puberty and they have no choice in the matter.
Sarah Awelping is a 19 year-old 6th grader at Salam Girls’ School in Aweil, South Sudan.  I met her recently when we were at her school checking on a well we repaired.   At the age of 15, like many girls her age, Sarah met and fell in love with a boy from a neighboring village.   His name was Garang and the two hoped to eventually marry.   Like many around here she is behind on her education because of the war, and understanding the importance of education, they both agreed to finish school first.
In the meantime, Sarah’s parents were approached by 60 year-old man who offered a large dowry of 100 cows for the young girl.
Despite the fact that the man already had four wives, and many children, Sarah’s parents accepted his offer.   The family was very poor and 100 cows would mean a period of financial security for them.  They would use these cows as currency.  If the crops failed, they would trade them for food.  They would be used to pay school fees for Sarah’s brothers.  And ultimately they would be used to pay the dowries for Sarah’s bothers’ wives.   Girls in this region, and much of the world, bear the burden of being considered one of the few commodities for their poor families.
Sarah was devastated when she secretly learned of her parent’s deal.   She knew the only way for her to be with Garang would be to run away.  So the two snuck away in the night and were secretly married.  When Sarah’s parents learned of the union, they threatened to have the marriage annulled. Fortunately for Sarah she had other supporters!   Her aunt defended her right to marry for love and eventually some other family members also joined in support.   Even though Sarah’s parents were furious over the lost dowry, they eventually gave up.
According to Sarah, girls often suffer terribly when they are given in marriage for a dowry.  The husbands consider them property, since they paid for them, and therefore exert complete control over them.   According to Sarah, unlike a marriage of love and trust, in these arranged unions the wives must ask approval from their husbands in order to even leave the house, often because the husbands fear they will run away.   The relationships are often physically abusive and the wives have no power to resist.
Sarah is adamant that the dowry system needs to change.  She says that, although it worked a long time ago, these days education is important.  She feels young girls should be allowed to focus on school rather than being forced into early marriage.
Although Sarah and Garang are happily married, she is still enrolled in school.   She makes wonderful grades and hopes to one day become a doctor.  She says she has seen so many people suffer and die from illnesses and wants to help.
Sarah’s story is like many other girls in the world.  Child mothers and child wives are a VERY BIG, REAL PROBLEM out here.   These girls would be shocked to know that the Empire State Building is being lit up pink today in honor of them.
They would never imagine that the world cares about them this much!

Kids Personal Stories

Ngor Garang Tong

Ngor-Garang-Tong-South-SudanNgor Garang Tong is a 5th grader at Salva Kiir Primary School, in Aweil Town, which is in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan. His school is one of several in the area where we have recently worked on projects. Ngor has a small afterschool business of shining shoes and said he uses his money to help his mom feed his family of himself and six siblings. He told us he is trying to save more money so he can build his family a safe and secure house. Ngor said he loves school and attends every day, without ever missing. His favorite class is English. Ngor is very focussed on working hard at school and getting the best grades he can. He told us when he grows up he is going to become governor or community leader.


Ayum Mary Diny

Ayum Mary Diny
Level 1 – p2 Salam Girls School, Aweil South Sudan
19 years old

Ayum Mary Diny loves school. Unfortunately due to decades of war she spent most of her childhood unable to go to school, like so many of her friends in South Sudan. Npw that the fighting has stopped Ayum is now 19 years old and only in the second grade.

When Ayum was in the first grade, her mom got sick, so Ayum had to leave school, go back to her village to take care of her ailing mother along and the rest of her siblings. Ayum being the oldest felt she had to assume responsibility for her brothers and sisters and make sure they were well cared for while their mother was sick. Unfortunately their mother died, so Ayum felt even more burdened to act as the parent to her brothers and sisters, especially since their father was not around.

Ayum spent her days making meals, washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning the home, and more. She was so exhausted by the end of each day that she could barely think, let alone keep up with her studies.

Ayum realized that she was spending almost five hours everyday fetching water walking from the closest well, so she decided to dig a well herself. She thought that if there was a well nearby she might actually have time to study. However, her hand-dug soon started attracting mosquitoes and became a risk for malaria and other bacteria. Ayum knew the water was unsafe to drink, but didn’t feel like she had any other choice but to use the polluted water.

During this stressful time in her life, Ayum would often become discouraged and depressed. She felt that she would never get to go back to school. Things turned around for Ayum and the family when her uncle returned home from the war. He was able to take on the role as caretaker for the Diny children, and Ayum was finally able to return to school!

Ayum is not in the same class as any of her old friends. They were able to stay in school the whole time she was absent and are now in more advanced years. But Ayum doesn’t mind at all, she is just so happy to be back in school, writing poems, learning about infectious diseases, and hanging out with her friends during class breaks. Ayum knows she has a great future ahead of her. She hopes to one day become a doctor and discover the cure for malaria.


Gillian Akullo

Gillian-AkulloGillian Akullo is 13 years old and is in 5th grade at Ating Tuo Primary School, in Alebtong, Uganda.   Gillian had been suffering from severe diarrhea for two years and recently her symptoms began getting worse.  She says her mother was also experiencing the same problems and possibly some of her other 10 siblings.  Gillian says her mom was never taught to boil drinking water and, since she does most of the domestic work, the family never drank water that was boiled.
Gillian says she missed a lot of school because of her stomach problems, which also impacted her ability to contribute at home because of the severe pain.
Drop in the Bucket staff took Gillian to the clinic for testing and learned that she had the dangerous Bilharzia worm and also a urinary tract infection.  The clinic gave her antibiotics.  We are now working with the sub-county health officials to make sure that all of the students at Ating Tuo Primary School are de-wormed.
In the future, Gillian would like to be a nurse so she can help people who are suffering with similar issues.   Everyone at Ating Tuo Primary School and the surrounding villages are extremely grateful to the Damiani Family for this clean water, which has definitely changed their lives.

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