Beads for Water Event
By Kashmiraa Pandit and Lucy Wu
Volume 1 Issue 3
December 16, 2020
Original flyer by Kashmiraa Pandit
On Tuesday, November 24th, The Culture Society hosted a special joint event with Georgia-based international nonprofit, Just One Africa, to share the clean water initiative with students at North. We invited national guest speaker Ms. Christina D. Hightower, Program Director at Just One Africa and presenter extraordinaire, to introduce the organization and explain the mission of Just One Africa in helping communities in Kenya. With 30+ attendees and a fun Nearpod presentation, we were able to communicate these ideas and inspire others to act towards aiding the Global Water Crisis directly from their homes.
What is Just One Africa?
Put simply, JOA is an international nonprofit organization located in Alpharetta, Georgia to provide sustainable solutions for families in Central and Southern Kenya through the combination of a Clean Water Fund and partnerships with local leaders and communities. Founded by wife and husband duo Amy and Clay Churchill, JOA has gradually gained support and volunteers from family, friends, community members, local organizations, and now schools across the United States.
Upon visiting the country with her family years prior, founder Amy Churchill met families throughout rural Kenya. Though their trip only lasted a short while, the story of one woman ran through her mind for months following their visit. Under a straw roof, the woman had shown Ms. Amy her child and their urgent need for access to clean water. As she returned to the United States, Amy Churchill believed that although she could not provide clean water to all, she could help provide access to clean water to just that one woman, thus establishing the international organization and their central phrase, “Just One”.
One of the most beautiful parts of JOA is that they not only help address the water crisis through their Beads for Water program, but they also partner with locals in Kenya, such as John and Dorcus, to rescue young girls from child marriage and FGM (female genital mutilation), empower and educate Kenyan women, and encourage students and volunteers within the United States to create direct change through a plethora of possibilities.
What is the Beads for Water program?
One of the largest issues JOA seeks to address is the Clean Water Crisis, which, according to the World Health Organization, prevents over a third of people across the world from accessing clean drinking water. In Kenya, this problem is only exacerbated as 40% of the population uses dirty lakes and wells as their water source, fueling the rampant spread of diseases including cholera and malaria. In effect, hundreds of Kenyan children face a lower quality of life, as the lack of access to clean water prevents young girls from attending school, reduces economic opportunities, and creates a higher infant mortality rate and a lower life expectancy. To combat these problems, JOA purchases the recycled paper bead jewelry and crafts handmade by local artisans and Maasai women. In turn, many Maasai women learn the fundamentals of economics, such as price setting and the laws of supply and demand. After importing the handmade crafts, the Just One Africa organization sells the pieces throughout the US. 100% of all the proceeds raised are contributed to the organization’s Clean Water Fund, through which Uzima water filters are purchased and provided to rural communities in Central and Southern Kenya, in regions including Amboseli and Nairobi to provide clean water. The Uzima water filters effectively eliminate over 99% of contaminants in each water supply. Each filter can process over 1 million gallons of clean water! The last and most important step occurs when they work with local leaders to distribute filters and educate each community on the importance of sanitation.
Why did the VSN Culture Society partner with Just One Africa?
Over the past two years, The Culture Society has grown to encompass a myriad of initiatives, from performing cultural choreography to hosting monthly events celebrating ethnic festivities. While the platform and method of The Culture Society have meandered over the years, the purpose has always remained the same: we wish to share one culture while learning of others. This year, The Culture Society decided to broaden its scope to learn about other cultures while finding ways for students at North to transcend borders and provide aid to children abroad.
The Culture Society aims to welcome people of varied backgrounds and educate others with their experiences and perspectives. Upon the onset of COVID-19, we sought to benefit not only those in our community, but also those across the world. JOA’s goals of sustainability and cooperation fit perfectly with everything we were looking for in a nonprofit and meeting the passionate founders and volunteers there has only reaffirmed our beliefs. One of their most influential sayings is “it takes just one to make a difference.” That mantra has resonated with us, as we know it can be difficult to feel that our actions make a real difference, but even just by sharing their story and mission, we can increase awareness and take a step toward solving global problems.
What can you do to help?
To everyone that participated in the event, bought a handmade item, or shared the JOA story: thank you for taking the initiative to improve the lives of others outside your community. If you didn’t get a chance to help yet, there are still so many ways to make a difference. Take the time now to share this story with your friends and family, raise awareness of this issue, and stay on the lookout for our next event. Remember: all it takes is just one to make a difference!
Purchase handmade jewelry and support the clean water initiative today!
Learn More: www.justoneafrica.org
Follow their Instagram: @justoneafrica or www.instagram.com/justoneafrica/
Be One for Someone!