Water1st

year 2, week 12:  this week i'm gonna... give access to clean water

Isra Jahan

Isra Jahan

Isra Jahan, a smiley, smart 12-year-old living in Dhaka, Bangladesh, dreams of one day becoming a doctor who serves poor clients. Her father, Ibrahim, works as a street vendor, selling snacks from his handcart, but his meager earnings are not enough to pay for an apartment with running water. So, like roughly 1 in 4 of the city’s 17 million people, Isra and her family live in an urban slum, a densely populated makeshift district that typically has no access to water or toilets. Isra has grown up spending her days walking to the river to retrieve water for her family, leaving no time for her to attend school.

Walking to collect water for their families is the arduous task faced by 200 million women and girls worldwide. Women, who spend up to five hours a day fetching water, have no time to participate in income-generating activities. And 100 million children, mostly girls, receive no education because they spend their days carrying water.

Access to clean running water is something that most of us in the United States take for granted, but impoverished communities around the world lack the infrastructure, funding, and training necessary to build and maintain water supply and sanitation systems. To meet this challenge, Water1st has set up successful water projects in Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, and Honduras, and it continues to expand its programs through the development of local partnerships.

Kirk Anderson, Director of International Programs, with Isra at her new water tap

Kirk Anderson, Director of International Programs, with Isra at her new water tap

With the aid of funding from Water1st, a Bangladeshi organization called Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK) helped the Jahans and their neighbors construct a water system right in their compound. DSK provided loans, helped the community members plan and implement the system, and continues to work with residents to monitor and expand their water supply. Clean water is now readily available for all their needs, bringing dignity and basic services to the urban poor.

Isra is especially excited—instead of walking to the river every day to collect water, she can stay in school and pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.


 
 

Water1st believes everyone should have access to a clean, permanent water supply and a sanitary toilet. A grassroots organization of more than 7,000 supporters, Water1st works in water-deprived areas around the world to combat the global water crisis, and has given over $15 million since 2005 to fund water projects in four countries. Although 35-50% of water projects typically fail within the first five years, every one of Water1st’s 1,937 projects continues to thrive, transforming the lives of over 168,000 people.

Community empowerment is the key to Water1st's stunning success rate; rather than simply writing checks or donating drills, Water1st develops long-term relationships with local organizations to create lasting, community-based water supply solutions. Community members receive extensive training to build, operate, and maintain their projects in perpetuity. The Water1st approach enables the world’s poorest people to implement and sustain vital projects that integrate clean water supply, toilets, and hygiene education.


In addition to working directly with water-deprived communities, Water1st works to inspire the next generation of global leaders through The Global Fellows program. The program was developed to expose high school students to the complexities of poverty and the importance of a community-led philosophy of development, with the intent to encourage effective development strategies moving forward.

Global Fellows experiencing the walk for water in Ethiopia

Global Fellows experiencing the walk for water in Ethiopia

Recently, the 2016 -2017 Water1st Global Fellows cohort participated in an intensive global development field seminar in the Water1st project community of rural Lempira, Honduras. The Water1st curriculum prepares students for a field seminar in extremely poor communities and includes resources and guidance to support the analytical thinking process around the topic of global development. Global Fellows learn the importance of entering project communities with respect, humility, and a willingness to listen and learn from underprivileged people who understand their needs best.

Lauren with kids in Lempira

Lauren with kids in Lempira

Global Fellows end their journey with a new perspective and a powerful voice to advocate for those in need. Lauren, a 10th grader from Seattle, has done two trips with Water1st. She says, “Six years ago, I went to Ethiopia with Water1st and the trip opened my eyes to a whole other part of the world I didn’t even know existed. I became motivated to make a difference in people’s lives. Looking back on that trip, I have realized that Water1st has shaped me into the person I am today and I am forever grateful. By traveling to Honduras with Water1st, I have gained new perspective on social issues and the water crisis.”


Notes for this week:

  • March 22nd is World Water Day!
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor clean water and a toilet for approximately 9-10 people.
  • For more information regarding Water1st, please check out their website.
 

this week i'm gonna donate to Water1st.

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