Engaging a Community with a Faucet: Mariama’s 28th Birthday Campaign Success in Guinea through There Is No Limit Foundation

“In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love”

As the Co-Founder of There Is No Limit Foundation, I know how little it takes to change someone’s life. Last year for my birthday, I decided to give rather than receive. I created a campaign that lasted for two weeks and asked my friends and supporters to donate $28 to match my age. The idea was that I would take those donations and create better access to water in one of the communities we were working in Guinea.

We raised $850 and although, it was not enough to build a well. I knew it would be enough to still change lives. I remembered stories from our team in Guinea about the water situation at Tombo II Primary School and how children literally pushed and shoved each other during lunch in order to access a bathtub size cement covered water faucet.   I knew that is where I needed to make the change.

As I travelled to Guinea and visited the Tombo II Primary School, I witness first-hand the stories my team had often reported to us.  As soon as the bell rang for lunch, students rushed past me and headed for the faucet. I followed them.  They gathered around the faucet which was surrounded by dirty standing water and garbage that had amassed over months.

One student, a little girl named Yari, twisted the head of the broken faucet in order to open it as other students watched impatiently. The faucet opened and little water came dripping out. Yari, in her role of leader, dutifully filled the cups, bottles and pots students were forcefully handing  to her.

Soon, the bell rang again and everyone had to return to class. Those students who were not lucky to have their cups filled will have to wait until next time to get some water. I approached one student who did not get water and started a conversation.

I asked him what the faucet meant; he told me “most of us do not eat the whole day while in school because we cannot afford the highly priced oranges and food street vendors sell. The water fills our stomach and stops us from felling hungry.  People who live around the school also use the faucet because they do not have water in their households. People come to the faucet area to shower and to pee. It is where we get water.” I watched as he ran off to class.

Right then, I realized how important the faucet was; it was the community’s only source of water. But more importantly, this faucet and it surroundings was key to the community’s health.

My team and I worked out a plan to increase the school’s access to water. We brought in a water technician who surveyed the site and made recommendations.  I wanted to involve the entire school and administration into the construction process because I wanted them to feel accountable and part of the change. For four days, we all worked to accomplish the goal. We helped carry cement bags, we helped clear  dirty water and garbage surrounding the site. We did it all.

We had a purpose.

As the project was almost coming to an end, the students and I worked together to make the site more beautiful. We planted flowers around the site and I spoke to them about the dangers of using the surrounding areas as a restroom. I also taught them how to wash their hands. Finally, I spoke to the administration about implementing a system for water collection and maintenance.

I promised that my team and I will continue to improve the school and the students promised me they would continue to study hard.

This experience re-affirmed my belief that the work of my organization,There Is No Limit Foundation, is important. It also reminded me that I was once a little girl like Yari.

Guinea is a country that needs help. But, we don’t need help in the sense that we want a “handout” we want the opportunity to succeed. Building the new water site has done that, it has given the community an opportunity to have water but it has also given them something to be proud of because each time they use the new faucets they will remember that THEY BUILT IT.

None of this work could have been possible without people like you. People who believe in the connection we all share as human beings and believe in lifting others up.

This year again, I am asking my friends and supporters to donate for my birthday so that I can help women entrepreneurs in Kindia. I hope you will join us.

Click Here to see a video by There Is No Limit Foundation on the impact of my Birthday Campaign