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Sisters Fold Origami and Raise $650,000 to Build Wells

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Every year about 842,000 people die from diarrhoea that causes dehydration and more than 840,000 people die from a water related disease each year. Worldwide, there are 750 million people who lack clean water access, which is more than twice the size of the U.S. population.

On average, it costs between $12,000-$15,000 to build enough wells to support an entire village of people. Five thousand dollars builds one well and provides enough water for 500 people. The costs include constructing the wells, preparing the community for the water project, and then monitoring and evaluating.

In 2011, Katherine Adams, age 5, and her sister Isabelle Adams, age 8, learned about the millions of people who go thirsty every day and about the girls who haul water all day instead of going to school. Therefore, both girls put their origami folding skills to use to raise money to build a well in Ethiopia.

With the help of their dad, they held an origami sale at a Starbucks in Dallas, Texas in order to help thousands of people without water. After eight weeks of selling origamis, the two girls raised more than $10,000, which is enough to benefit an entire village.

It has been almost four years since they started folding origamis, and the two sisters–now 9 and 11–founded an organization called Paper for Water that has hundreds of volunteers and helped raise more than $650,000. That is enough money to create clean sustainable water for about 63 to 65 villages or 32,000 people.

The origami ornaments are not easy or simple to make. The average ornament they make takes one hour and one volunteer took 22 hours to create a single ornament.

Globally, it would take about $20 billion to solve water and sanitation problems, which the girls believe is doable. Their origami ornaments are for sale online ranging from $10 to $100 per item and give you an option to donate without getting an origami gift.


Donald Gering

Sources: Good News Network, Paper for Water, UNICEF, Water.org, The Water Project