Mitzvah Project: Raising Money to Bring Water to South Sudan

Mitzvah Project: Raising Money to Bring Water to South Sudan

Hailey Diamond is a 6th grader at Yeshivat Noam in Bergen County, New Jersey and just celebrated her Bat Mitzvah. She is an avid reader and was very touched by reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park and wanted to help. The novel is about the Sudan Civil War where millions of people died and millions more had to flee for their lives to refugee camps in Ethiopia, Kenya, and other neighboring countries. Among those who fled were thousands of children, mostly boys, known as “The Lost Boys of Sudan.” Salva Dut was one of those boys and relocated to the United States in 1996. He now leads Water for South Sudan, the non-profit organization he founded in 2003.

Pictured Above: Hailey Diamond at her Bat Mitzvah. 

MM: Why did you take on this particular Mitzvah Project?
HD In my school book club, I read the book “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, about the challenges many people face in the area of Sudan. I was so surprised to hear about how people live. While we can turn on our faucets and get clean drinking water, life in the Sudan is very different. For much of the year, the land is dry and people have to leave their homes and families behind, and women and children are forced to walk hours every day to collect water. The water they find is often dirty and many people die from the water or the trek to get water. This demanding, time-intensive regimen makes getting an education difficult, if not impossible. This is why most children and especially women in South Sudan do not even have an elementary education. According to Salva Dut, “Where safe, clean water flows, education, economic development, and health spring up. Safe water brings new hope and opportunities to South Sudan’s people, empowering them to change their lives.” I wanted to help them. Things are improving as of May 2017, Water for South Sudan has successfully drilled 304 borehole wells, bringing clean, safe water to hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan.

MM: Can you give us details of your Mitzvah Project?
HD:
My mom Stefanie and I contacted Water for South Sudan (their headquarters are in New York), and launched a fundraising page where every dollar raised goes towards the cause. I sent an email to family and friends describing the situation in South Sudan and asking for donations. Then I launched a party business and I donate the money I make from working at local birthday parties. I have just reached $2,800!!

MM: In your own words, what does it mean to you to do a Mitzvah Project for your Bat Mitzvah? 
HD: Water is usually something we take for granted. It takes me only a few seconds to get water from my sink. But in the book, we meet an 8-year-old girl named Nya who walks 8 hours a day, every day, just to get a little bit of bad, contaminated water. When I finished the book, I just wanted to help in any way I could. I thought I needed to raise to a lot of money to make an impact, but I read on their Website that small amounts make a huge difference, even $10 can change a life, so I launched my campaign. I had the honor of meeting Salva. He thanked me for feeling motivated by his story and taking it upon myself to help. He said “Hailey, it is because we have kids like you, who care about others, that the world is still spinning. Our purpose is to help others, and we are so grateful to you and proud of everything you’ve done.”  

MM: How long and how can people donate to this charity?
HD: This issue may not directly affect you or me, but that’s what makes it all the more important. It’s our job to make the world a better place, and we need to start with empathy. Caring about people we don’t know and helping improve their quality of life will change the world. I have raised $1,600 to date, and plan on continuing even once my Bat Mitzvah is over. I have spoken to 5th and 6th graders at SAR Academy about my project and will do a presentation for the 6th grade class at my school, Yeshivat Noam. My ultimate goal is to dig a well, even if it takes me the next 20 years to do so.


We thank Hailey and her family for sharing her great Bat Mitzvah Project with our readers and wish her much success in reaching her goal and Mazel Tov on her Bat Mitzvah!

To donate to Hailey’s Bat Mitzvah project, visit her fundraising page at or email stefdiamond@gmail.com and Stefanie will direct you to the link.

 
 
 
 
 
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