On Saturday, July 14, 2012 from 10am to 4pm, a group of energetic and eclectic performers will convene at the Holley Plaza section of Washington Square Park (located near W 4th St. and Washington Square South / Macdougal) in New York City.

Poets, singer-songwriters and dancers will convene and showcase their talent as they help raise money for the fundraiser entitled: PERFORMANCE FOR AWARENESS: CHILDREN IN CRISIS. This show is designed to raise both money and awareness regarding the plight of children in Africa whose lives are torn apart by war, poverty and disease.

Surrounding the stage will be tables collecting donations for three different organizations: UNICEF, INVISIBLE CIHLDREN and GROUNDWATER GO. Each table will also have volunteers with flyers distributing information about both the situation overseas and the organizations that are advocating for their cause.  Items (such as CDs, books, etc.) will also be offered in exchange for donations.

The schedule is as follows:

10:30AM Helene Fitzpatrick (opera)
11:00AM Madly Loved (poetry)
11:30AM Molly Phelps (modern dance)
12:00PM Andrew Saliba (acoustic)
12:30PM  Kelsie.Janel (neo soul)
1:00PM Jeffrey Paul Bobrick (acoustic / indie / pop)
1:30PM Inky Glass (blues / folk / poetry)
2:00PM dawn zahra (poetry / indie)
2:30PM LE Sphinx X (electro)
3:00PM Luciar (indie / acoustic)

Date and Time: Saturday, July 14, from 10-4pm
Location:  Holley Plaza. Washington Square Park,
(Holley Plaza is located near the  W 4th / Wash. Sq. South / Macdougal side of the park.) (Just west of fountain)
Subway: West 4th Street Station Trains:A,B,C,D,E,F,V
                      Christopher Street Station Trains: 1,9
Price: Free (Donations requested)

Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/318453498242759/



Thank you all so much for visiting our site.

The human rights crisis in Africa–especially regarding the abduction and enslavement of children (for use as both prostitutes and soldiers) is, in my opinion, the gravest crisis on this planet.

As a performer, I feel that it is crucial to utilize our talent and channel our creativity into critical causes.

As an educator, I know how important it is to not only discuss and deconstruct global events, but also to brainstorm solutions for the future–especially when so many young lives are at stake.

It is only when awareness is raised that policies, practices, and lives are changed.

That is the spirit in which this PERFORMANCE FOR AWARENESS event was created–and I ask you to become a part of it. On Saturday, 14 July from (10am to 4pm) in Washington Square Park (near Thompson & W 4th St.) an eclectic and energetic array of artists will be singing, dancing, playing, slamming and selling their artwork for this cause. If you could come out and support the artists–and provide a small donation to the cause–that would be great! If you can’t make it, please consider using one of the links in the lower right hand corner to make an online donation. A small contribution of $10 can feed an entire family for a week.

I hope that you, along with our artists and students, are inspired into activism!

See you on Bastille Day!

~dawn zahra

Water for Children: Africa’s Groundwater Resources

Read the Series: Groundwater in Africa

As, I mentioned earlier on this blog, a recent Al Jazeera video referred to the Africa’s groundwater resources as a Sea of Groundwater. This is a phrase I’m particularly fond of because it suggests the enormous volume of water contained in aquifers.

How much is water is in this sea? Between 160,000 and 800,000 cubic miles, and that’s a lot of water. For reference, there’s 887,677 cubic miles of water in the Mediterranean Sea.

If properly managed, this water could help African people in many ways, including:

  • Enabling people to grow more food.
  • Providing a safe supply of drinking water.
  • Protecting people from the worst effects of climate change.
  • Lifting people out of poverty.

But many challenges lie ahead for accessing this water. Because the resource is so valuable, it could lead to political conflict and corruption. The United Nations General Assembly has called on African nations to begin working together to collectively manage this aquifer in an equitable manner. Aid organizations will also need to ensure that new drinking water wells are properly supported by local populations and that residents have the skills and resources to repair them when damaged.

Stephen Foster of the Global Water Partnership described some of the challenges with Reuters. “In northern Nigeria there have been groundwater irrigation projects that have failed because of the rising cost of fuel – a major factor in drilling costs – and distribution difficulties,” he said.

Groundwater Philanthropy Ideas from Ned Breslin

Ned Breslin is someone who understands the water crisis experienced by millions of people in Africa. As the CEO of the non-profit, Water for People, Breslin is not afraid to provide straight talk about the complexity of the crisis and the need for better solutions. In July, he wrote an article in the Huffington Post about the UNICEF’s Millennium Development Goal for water. In this article, he discussed the types of challenge that faces too many African children.

“I speak of a great teenage girl, Fanta, quite often. She is a girl with big dreams and was named after the popular Coca-Cola product that her mother loves so much. Fanta orange of course. I met Fanta in Zimbabwe when she was lugging water from an unprotected water source. She had missed another day of school fetching water, and we talked next to a broken handpump that she passed each day on the way back and forth from the unprotected puddle she used now for her household supply.”

But Breslin doesn’t just complain about the problem, he also has lots of good ideas about solutions. In an April 2012 interview with WASHfunders.org he described Water for People‘s interest in requiring tariffs for new well projects.

“We focus on payment and tariffs. The days of sweat equity alone being sufficient for ownership are gone, thankfully. The challenge is to develop tariff systems that finance operations and maintenance (O&M), and also contribute in part to the eventual replacement of these systems over time while ensuring that all have access to water regardless of economic capacity. But someone has to pay, and ownership and sustainability will be elusive unless we embrace the fact that payment matters. We can debate who pays all we want, but someone has to pay — someone actually has to own that responsibility.”

At first, it might sound strange to ask very poor communities to pay for water infrastructure, especially when that infrastructure was constructed by a non-profit organization. But this may be the secret to maintaining water infrastructure over the long run. A tariff may be needed to ensure that the materials and labor is available to maintain the infrastructure.

In the same interview, Breslin discussed emerging sensor technology. Sensors constructed into pumps could alert the responsible party when pumps were broken. This technology could also indicate the amount of water being produced by a given pump, providing important feedback to donors about the success of their project.

The bold innovations proposed by Water for People will help groundwater philanthropy move forward in this century.

The July 2012 Series on Groundwater in Africa

This month, GroundwaterGo will be publishing a blog series on groundwater and Africa as part of the Children in Crisis fundraiser that we will be joining in Washington Square Park, NYC on July 14.

The groundwater potential of Africa is huge. A report issued earlier this year by the British Geological Survey found that the continent of Africa literally sits on a sea of groundwater. There is 20 times more water stored in African aquifers than in its lakes and ponds.

Yet, these groundwater resources often seem out of reach to poor communities. Many people, especially women and children, devote hours each day to fetching water. The burden is so great that it keeps children out of school. Furthermore, the water that these communities do have access to is often unsanitary.

The answer seems simple: drill more wells. But experts from wealthy nations often fail spectacularly when they try to address this problem. In a 2011 post, I discussed some of the missteps of groundwater philanthropies in developing nations:

“From an engineering perspective, the construction of drinking water wells and basic sanitation is elementary. But water-supply projects built by non-profit organizations in developing nations face a high failure rate due to complex social and economic forces that such charities often ignore.

Ned Breslin, chief executive of the nonprofit Water For People, is critical of many past water supply development projects. During the twenty years that he spent in development in Africa before joining Water For People, Breslin saw drinking water pumps installed only to go to waste due to break-down, neglect, or mismanagement.1

Marla Smith-Nilson, founder of Water 1st International, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy that many problems can arise for water or sanitation project, including “failure to train people with the plumbing skills needed to fix water systems if they break, trouble collecting fees to maintain the water source, and difficulty finding spare parts for pumps or wells.”2

Wells are often installed without the involvement or even the support of the local community. In sparsely populated areas, it is often too difficult and too expensive for communities to find and hire technical expertise to repair broken wells.3 Even if the communities have the skill to repair the well, they may not be able to pay for new materials needed to repair their water supply project.4

As you can see, Africa needs real solutions that empower African people with the skills needed to drill and maintain wells. Donors and philanthropies need to take a hard look at their practices to ensure that they are engaging in actual solutions and that they are listening to the true needs of individuals in served communities.

In this July 2012 blog series, I’ll be discussing success stories and new innovations that will grant Africa access to its groundwater potential.

(Cross posted from GroundwaterGo.com)

1. Preston, Caroline. (2010). A Water Charity Spills Its Secrets, and Donors Open Their Wallets. Chronicle of Philanthropy, 23.3: 15.

2. Lewis, Nicole. (2007). Charity Hopes to Put an End to Villages’ Water Woes – Philanthropy.com. Chronicle of Philanthropy, 20.1: 5.

3.International Institute for Environment and Development. (2009). Briefing: Where every drop counts: tackling rural Africa’s water crisis. London, UK.

4. Breslin, E.D. (2010). Rethinking Hydro-Philanthropy: Smart Money for Transformative Impact. Water For People.

Support the Cause

The cause we’re seeking to address is the plight of children soldiers in Africa–and beyond. UNICEF has been working on this issue for decades and Invisible Children has also brought this issue to light. Organizations such as these have done much to bring the plight of helpless, victimized children into our first world consciousness–and I, personally, have been incredibly moved by their efforts and vowed to do what I can to help–hence, this fundraiser…