Local Donors Make a Global Impact

Mar 12, 2020

In mid-January, we completed our first well of 2020 in Kilou, a rural Burkina Faso community that’s home to 2,000 people. Prior to its completion, the community relied on an exposed well that was open to the elements. It was also dry for half the year. When dry, community members, including 133 registered students at the area elementary school, would have to walk 1.25 miles (each way) to fetch water. In the age of Covid-19 that doesn’t make it easy to wash your hands.  But not anymore.

A look inside the previous open well the community of Kilou depended on for water. An open well like this has no natural filtration, and anything can fall inside.

The open well Kilou well before the newly installed Sonder Project closed pump system.

Last October, Dr. Sarika Tamaskar and her husband, Dr. Reese Ruder, owners of Seacrest Dental in Miramar Beach, were attending the 30A BBQ Fest to kick-off the 30A Half Marathon & 5K Race Weekend when they struck up a conversation with The Sonder Project’s CEO, Chad Zibelman. The doctors expressed their strong belief in the importance of giving back. They were also looking to donate to projects where their gift would have the greatest impact. As Dr. Tamaskar told us, “The dollar goes a lot further abroad.” 

Members of the community in Kilou, Burkina Faso, gathered to discuss the plans for a Sonder Project well.

According to GiveWell – often considered the “gold standard for giving” – charities working in the United States are often working to resolve complex problems and have to account for the high cost of living and staffing. Charities working overseas, on the other hand, are often working to solve more basic problems with inexpensive solutions that can make a tremendous difference at a fraction of the cost. Just think about the difference between solving the water crisis in Flint, Michigan which requires the replacement of thousands of underground pipes, versus providing clean water to a rural African community that needs a single deep well with a manual handpump. It’s hard to find a community in the U.S. where a simple handpump can solve a huge problem. And yet these situations are all too commonplace around the world. As Dr. Tamaskar put it, “When looking at communities around the world, there are a lot more basic things missing.”

Dr. Tamaskar and Dr. Ruder chose to donate to The Sonder Project because we are a local organization. This being the case, they could get to know our leadership. “Through our interactions,” Dr. Tamaskar said, “I had confidence in how you were going to use the money for the intended purpose.” 

Dr. Sarika Tamaskar and her husband Dr. Reese Ruder, owners of Seacrest Dental in Miramar Beach.

It didn’t hurt that 100% of our administrative costs are paid for by our founding sponsor, 360 Blue. This meant that all of their donation went directly toward the water pump.  “It’s super important for us, if we have more than we need, to give our money to where it can be used most efficiently,” Dr. Tamaskar said. “Water is one of the most basic things you need for survival, so it was a no-brainer.”

Once a donation is given, we take pride in keeping the donor informed and reporting back on the selected community they are helping and the progress of our work. “It moved so fast!” Dr. Tamaskar remarked.

The local students celebrate with the newly completed well in the village of Kilou, January 2020.

Their gift was given in November and by December the community had been selected. In January, Dr. Tamaskar and Dr. Ruder received a photo of the completed well, fixed with a sign that translates to “Gift of Dr. Sarika Tamaskar & Dr. Reese Ruder…” for generations of community members to read every time they wash their hands and take a drink of clean, naturally-filtered water.

Are you interested in funding a deep-well hand pump for a Sonder Project community? In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the importance of access to clean water for health and sanitation couldn’t be any more clear than it is right now.  Funding a well is an excellent way to make a meaningful impact on thousands of lives for generations to come. It costs The Sonder Project $11,000 to construct a well. And we’ll be more than happy to attach yours or your company’s name to memorialize your generosity. For more information on funding a well, please reach out to info@thesonderproject.org.   

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