The World Wide Web of Water
A group of us got together over the Internet and started fund raising… and we raised enough money to build not just one well, but hundreds more like it.
Dreams of travel have always filled the mind of Diane Yoder, a computer specialist at the University of Albany in upstate New York. Especially travel to Africa. She never imagined that her first visit would bring her to the Assin North District of Ghana at the site of a hand dug well that her own on-line initiative helped inspire.
“I was overwhelmed with emotions. It brought tears to my eyes,” Diane recalls. “It was the first time that I had seen a well project in person. I knew it would be different than seeing a photo, but I wasn’t prepared for how different. To see the community, to see the conditions, to see the well, and immediately see the difference it’s made.”
Diane is a founding member of the African Well Fund, an internet-based charity whose aim is to bring clean water to rural African communities. Since 2003, the group has partnered with Africare to dig wells, build sanitation systems and improve community health in every region on the continent. To date, the charity has raised over three quarters of a million dollars with all of their efforts “virtual” – fund raising through the world wide web. Why on-line? That is where they first met. The group formed shortly after watching an MTV special about Irish rock star and activist Bono’s trip to Africa in 2002.
“One of the points Bono made in the special was how cheap it was to build a well -- $1,000. And I felt, wow, we can raise $1,000 to build a well. So a group of us got together over the internet and started fund raising… and we did it! We raised enough money to build not just one well, but hundreds more like it.”
Africare and the African Well Fund have broken ground in more than a dozen countries since the partnership began seven years ago. Over three quarters of a million dollars later, they’ve been able to support projects like The Gokwe Integrated Water and Sanitation Project in Zimbabwe, which has provided 2,000 men, women and children with safe, clean water through the rehabilitation of over 350 broken down boreholes and water points in the community. In addition, they have been able to improve communal hygiene through new toilets and sanitation facilities at area schools. The Gokwe Project is one of many projects sponsored by the African Well Fund, driven by a dream to see basic necessities like water available for people in Africa.
“I firmly believe that every person should have access to clean water and to clean sanitation facilities,” notes Diane. “There are so many places that are in such great need. And I think we can all play a part in helping alleviate that need. I did.”
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