By Devlin Smith
Now through March 22, Dion Simte, founder of the Bono Street Team, is raising money for the African Well Fund's annual Build a Well for Bono's Birthday fundraiser. Simte has made a birthday wish through Facebook to benefit AWF and is giving away limited-edition prints of a painting by Azalea Millet to the four top donors. These prints will also be sold by AWF during the course of the fundraiser.
Simte answered a few questions about the Bono Street Team and why the group wanted to help AWF reach its goal of raising $50,000 for Bono's birthday.
What is your title/role with the Bono Street Team?
I am the creator/founder of the Bono Street Team. I was inspired to do more for Africa when I met Bono and Ali Hewson in 2006 at the Edun/One.org event in Los Angeles. At first, I created a MySpace page called Hearts for Africa, which was first established in early 2007 in support of Bono's activism. I had also created a website to go with it, which showed various African resources to educate people on the "emergency" in Africa. In 2008 I changed the name to the Bono Street Team. I was inspired by the way Christian rock bands used street teams to promote themselves. Street team is a term used in marketing to describe a group of people who "hit the streets" promoting an event or a product. I thought it was perfect to change the name, as it was just what we were doing. Since then I have expanded to Facebook, Twitter and Blogger. This past year, I was blessed to have Bono himself give his approval of the BST and our efforts to help raise awareness of poverty in Africa.
Can you describe what the Bono Street Team is?
The Bono Street Team are fans of Bono who are advocates that are dedicated to and support the work Bono does for Africa. We are here to help raise awareness thru social media networking about poverty, AIDS/HIV, malaria, debt and trade in Africa. It is our way of bringing exposure to the issues close to his heart as well as our own as individuals.
Why did the Bono Street Team want to raise funds through Facebook Causes for AWF and Build a Well for Bono's Birthday?
We discovered that Facebook can be a powerful tool in raising funds for charitable organizations. We specifically wanted to help AWF build fresh water wells so that the villages in sub-Saharan Africa can have access to safe, consumable water and utilizing the Facebook Cause page gives us such a platform. We realize that the BST page is an excellent vessel to provide AWF with the extra help it needs to help raise funds where we can be assured that the donations go directly to AWF.
How did you get the four prints you're giving away as part of this fundraiser?
I decided that this year for my birthday, in lieu of gifts, donations be made to help raise funds for one of my favorite charities through the Bono Street Team Facebook
Cause Page. I had an idea for a contest that would help motivate people to donate, by asking my friend and artist, Azalea Millet, if she would create a painting for the Bono Street Team to be used as an incentive for the birthday fundraiser. I decided to have only four prints made of the original painting, numbered and signed by the artist, available to the top four highest donations. The birthday fundraiser ends on March 22, at that time all donations will go to our beneficiary African Well Fund. Additional prints of the painting will be made available through the AWF 8th annual Build a Well for Bono's Birthday fundraiser from March 22-May 10.
Can you describe the prints?
The prints are a reproduction of the original gouache painting of Bono holding an African child from a trip to Ghana in 2002. They are on white medium glossy paper, 11x17 with a white border around it. The painting includes the Bono Street Team name along with a quote of Bono's, "This is our moment ... to Stand Up for what is right." This comes from his speech at Live8 in 2005.
What is your goal for this fundraiser?
Our goal is to not only raise funds for the AWF, but to help bring awareness and support for the African Well Fund. We also want to be instrumental in helping the AWF reach their Build a Well for Bono's Birthday fundraiser goal of $50,000.
What kind of response have you gotten so far?
We have had a very positive response from everyone involved so far. BST members are excited about the print giveaway and we have received plenty of encouragement and support.
If people are interested in making a donation to your Facebook Cause, where can they get more information?
The Bono Street Team Facebook Cause page is located at this link.
Is there anything else you would like to add about this fundraiser, the prints you're giving away or the Bono Street Team?
The Bono Street Team plans on running many more fundraisers throughout this year for the African Well Fund and other charities. We really want to make a difference and help where we are needed for those who are in need in the world. Galatians 2:10 [says], "The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor," and I was already eager to do that.