by Devlin Smith
Earlier this year, members of the Alpha Delta Lambda sorority at Union College in Schenectady, New York, took a handmade well and bucket around campus to educate their classmates about the global water crisis. In the process, the members of the philanthropy-focused sorority raised over $200 for the African Well Fund.
ADL Philanthropy Chair Kylie Gorski shared why ADL wanted to raise money for AWF, the impact the fundraiser had on the sorority and how to raise awareness for important causes on a college campus.
Why did you want to fundraise for AWF?
We wanted to fundraise for the AWF not only because it is a worthy cause and a trustworthy organization, but it would give our organization the chance to expand the help we do from local and national to international.
Can you share more about the changes you and your sisters have made in your daily routines after learning about the global water crisis?
We have all made personal strides to conserve our water use with the help of our sisters who are majoring in environmental studies. Most of our sisters now use reusable water bottles in an attempt to stop treating water as a sell-able product. We are thinking of engaging in the Water Project's water challenge [drinking only water for two weeks and donating the money you saved on drink purchases to a water organization] and encouraging the campus to do so sometime next term. There has also been talk of donating the money we raise from our annual, non-negotiable car wash (which uses a lot of water) to the AWF in an attempt to even-out our carbon footprint, in a sense. We all do simple things as a result of our newfound appreciation for water as a privilege, like shutting off the water when we brush our teeth.
What advice do you have for other college groups that want to support a cause like AWF?
I think the best way to promote an event for the AWF on college campuses, or any event on college campuses, is to be different and to be loud. Shout at people, bring them out of their pre-class haze, stand on tables, sneak into the radio station and use the telecom, be subversive - this is something people should be shocked and surprised by. Wake them up - wear T-shirts, do movie screenings. Work with the system, not within it. And always, always, offer food -- buy Chipotle and they will come.
Why do you believe it's important to support a group like AWF?
It is so, so important to support the AWF! Not only is it important to support other humans in their basic rights (in my opinion, access to clean water should be a basic human right) but it's also a great way to make Americans (and people from other well-developed countries) realize their own privilege and how it can harm others. In the States, particularly the Northeast, water conservation isn't really a concept often thought of. We can get water almost anywhere, at any time: the bookstore, the coffee shop, school hallways for free, public fountains. We can buy water that's filtered through volcanoes in Fiji or streams in Poland. But, women in Africa have to walk miles and miles just to get some water that is even drinkable. People should support the AWF because water is not a product, it's a requirement for life, and it's actually pretty easy to help others gain access to it: so why wouldn't people want to help?