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Adrianna Velazquez

College Students Volunteer on Fall, 2014 Fundraising Campaign

Chicago, Illinois, USA, July 30, 2014

The Guinea Water Project launched when a group of friends came together in Chicago with a plan to make a difference. An all-volunteer fundraising campaign, the project is aimed at making and distributing sustainable biosand water filters in Guinea, West Africa.

The project started when Jonathan Silverstein met Helen Bond and was inspired after learning about her work. Bond, along with Amy Lusk became involved after visiting Guinea in 2001 because they loved the Djembe, a traditional West African drum whose origins can be traced back to Guinea.

“We saw how the rhythms of the drums, the dancing and the music built and nurtured community. But, we also saw the poverty, the lack of educational and economic opportunity, and the disease. We wanted to help,” said Bond, of Grayslake, Illinois.

Through the Motherland Rhythm Community, a small 501c3 nonprofit, Bond and Lusk launched the Benkadi Project, a collaboration between Guineans and Americans for sustainable development whose accomplishments include installing a solar device and distributing self-contained solar lights; building and maintaining a new school house while improving an old one and providing benches, tables and supplies; taking a village from one well to four; repairing a neighboring village well; building a youth center; and providing food, agricultural and emergency medical assistance.

In 2013, they began making biosand water filters, a modern adaption of the traditional slow sand filter. In a country where water-borne diseases such as bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever are a commonplace, the filters were a hit. Each filter can provide safe drinking water for ten people for ten years and only cost $300 to make; less than a penny a day to give a person safe drinking water.

“I’ve been concerned about the world’s water crisis for a long time,” said Jonathan Silverstein of Chicago. “I can drink water without fear any time I want, but a billion people don’t have a reliable source of safe drinking water. I was so inspired when I met Helen and learned about her work. I immediately asked, ‘How can I help?’ So I decided to start a fundraising campaign.”

The heart of the campaign will be an Indigogo online crowdfunding campaign which will run from September 5 through October 6. Donations can also be made via The Guinea Water Project’s website. Contributions made before September 5 will be count towards the campaign.

It will also include WaterDance, a performance event and Rhythm and Schmooze, a five-star dinner and art auction.

WaterDance will be at the Temple Synphorium on September 6. Performances will include West African dance orchestrated by Jen Halman. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here (write “WaterDance” in the “Special Instructions” box).

Rhythm and Schmooze will be at 115 N. Carpenter in Chicago’s West Loop with special guest Kevin Lampe of Kurth Lampe, on Sunday, October 5, 2014. Dinner will be created by AlyseMarie Warren, Head Chef at the Saddle Room in Hoffman Estates. Art for the event has been donated by some of the top artists from Chicago and beyond, including Yva Neal, Brook Woolf and Kay Wood. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased here (write “Rhythm and Schmooze,” as well as any special dietary or accessibility requirements in the “Special Instructions” box).

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