Helping Hands, 10-year Anniversary Event
The First Years
On Friday, November 27, Friendly Water for the World held an event to fundraise for our 2021 programs and to celebrate our first 10 years. There were over 70 participants who donated more than $20,000 towards programs in Kenya, Zambia, and India. The event was emceed by Ginny Stern, a former and original Friendly Water for the World board member, retired hydrologist, and frequent volunteer and traveler to our programs in Africa.
Ginny introduced the current Board of Directors and shared stories of her trips to Tanzania working with Maasai tribes and people with Albinism. In succession, she then introduced Eric Lijodi, our Programs Manager and David Albert, our Board Chairman, to share the formative years of the organization. Eric shared his experience meeting the daughter of co-founder Del Livingston in England at a Friends event, and how that led to the first BioSand Water Filter projects in Kenya. David shared more about the early years and some of the first Africa projects, India explorations, and fundraising campaigns.
We were then joined by two of our partners in India, Lidwin from Tamil Nadu and Binyamin from Lucknow. Both spend much of their energy and time working with marginalized people, from women and children, to small-holding farmers to prisoners and Dalits.
What We Do
Will Forester spent some time to introduce our community development process steps, survey – engagement – training – follow-up. We just completed our first Community Engagement with the villagers of Matsakha, Kenya near our Kakamega Center. He then discussed the Friendly Water for the World platform, and why, although we are a water-first organization, we have expanded our platform to encompass other life-improving essential resources.
Wayne Medrud presented the seven technologies we currently implement, and demonstrated both how a BioSand Water Filter works and what cured Interlocking Stabilized Soil Bricks looks like. Sharing the technologies is always interesting as we get to see how these technical solutions work. Something our next presenter, Ronelle Funk, saw up close when she attended both our 2019 BioSand Water Filter training in Anacortes and dedicated a new building on behalf of her parents, on a trip to Gandhigram, India earlier this year.
We were excited to have Getry Agizah of Transforming Communities for Social Change join us from Kakamega, Kenya. She spoke about her background and organization, and how we will be partnering with each other, the people of Matsakha, and the Matsakha Development Group to create sustainable solutions for the community.
Next, Jim Clark was gracious to join us and speak on behalf of Execute Director Heather Cumming from Simwatachela Sustainable Agriculture and Arts Program (SSAP). He shared words that Heather had written for the event (it was past midnight local time in Simwatachela) and we learned about their community, and how we can work together in the future. We hope that the community we have trained in Monze, Zambia will be able to lead the projects in Simwatachela.
Prashant Nema then joined us from Seattle to discuss caste discrimination in India, how even though it is outlawed, it is still common practice, and the degree to which it inhibits students from lower castes achieving an education and changing their lives. David Albert then spoke again, introducing a training and knowledge-sharing partnership we are exploring with the Nalanda Academy to introduce sustainable water-first technologies in Wardha, India.
Our Executive Director, Curt Andino, then talked about why we do the work we do. He explained how in our partner communities, the path for people to create their own better future runs through education and good health, and begins with clean water.
Finally, we were joined by volunteer and supporter Holly Myers who attended our Anacortes BioSand Water Filter training in 2017. The following year she joined us on a trip into the Congo.
Along the way we answered questions, chatted with our friends, and captured ideas for how to improve our program and better reach our community. We are excited about how our first virtual event turned out and plan another one in the Spring to celebrate World Water Day.
And we look forward to celebrating turning 20 with you.