Saving Lives with Safe Water
© Courtesy of Wells Bring Hope
The stories Barbara Goldberg heard on her first trip to Niger were often about life and death, pain and suffering—babies dying from contaminated water, girls who risked being attacked and raped when they walked miles to get water, women whose hands were in constant pain, burned by the ropes they used to pull water from a traditional well.
Thankfully, stories with happy endings, like the one that follows, revealed how drilling a well saves lives and transforms them for generations to come. Learning about the powerful impact that Wells Bring Hope, the organization she founded, had in the rural villages she visited made it clear to Goldberg that this is work she would do for the rest of her life.
In a village without safe water, mothers live in constant fear that their children will die from contaminated water. Haoua was one of those mothers. Her daughter, Habiba, was often very sick as a child.
“I remember one of her vomiting episodes—she almost died,” Haoua recalled. “She was terribly ill all day long. My only option was some aspirin. Instead of getting better, she began to vomit blood. I honestly feared for Habiba’s life that day.”
Thanks to a deep water well that Wells Bring Hope drilled in her village when she was 10 years old, Habiba is thriving and excitedly planning to become a teacher so she can help educate other young girls. She knows that she’s one of the lucky ones, that women in her community, like her mother, have not been as fortunate.
The good news for her mother and other women in the village is that drilling the well has freed up their time and allowed them to pursue income-generating work. What did they most want to do? Start small businesses and earn money to improve the lives of their families.
“The drilling of this well has allowed me to start a profitable business because I no longer have to walk for water,” said Haoua. “I’m proud to say that I’m a soapmaker. With my profits, I started selling other things, too. I’ve learned so much and feel so proud that I’m able to earn up to 30,000 WAF ($50 USD) per month. Best of all, Habiba is healthy and in school every day.”
The two biggest challenges for the people of Niger are water and sanitation. Less than half of the population of 26 million have access to safe water, and less than 15 percent have access to sanitation facilities. One in seven Nigerien children dies before age five, often from a simple case of diarrhea. Women and girls walk four to six miles daily in search of water, which is often deadly. Girls don’t have time to go to school. As a result, 85 percent of women in Niger are illiterate.
When Goldberg first learned about the water crisis in West Africa at a very moving presentation in February of 2008, she and a small group of like-minded women set a goal to raise enough money to fund five wells by year-end. When they surpassed that goal, raising enough for 10 wells, Goldberg put aside her retirement plans to found Wells Bring Hope. Since then, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit has funded 776 wells, impacting the lives of close to ¾ million people in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.
All donations to this grassroots organization go directly to funding water projects, and it is run by volunteers from around the world.
A safe water project delivers these life-changing benefits:
- Child mortality decreases by over 70 percent
- Girls attend school, marry later, and have the chance to realize their dreams
- Women learn how to start small businesses and feel pride in their accomplishments
- Gardens thrive and help prevent starvation in times of famine
- The downward spiral of poverty ends
Your support makes it possible for children like Habiba and women like Haoua to live safe, healthy, and productive lives.
Learn more at wellsbringhope.org and see its 4/4-star rating on Charity Navigator
We transform lives by drilling solar-powered, mechanized wells to provide safe, clean water to rural villages in Niger, West Africa, one of the three poorest country in the world.