The REAL reason African girls stop going to school...

I visited a well on a campus in Uganda that was built by the partners I support with my fund raisers.I expected to hear that girl’s attendance was on the rise since they no longer had to miss school to walk miles to fetch water for their families.But I was sad to learn that girls over 11 were still dropping out.The reason shocked me. Alice, the principal of the school, said that a girl stops going to school when she gets her period.The lack of sanitary products, latrines, privacy and washing areas were to blame.I realized it was not enough to just bring clean water.

My partners on the ground in Uganda, Divine Waters, realized that too.  So, they started a hygiene club after school where girls would get together and sew reusable pads.They made a cloth sheath from scraps.It had a cloth belt that buttoned to secure it around the undergarments.Inside was a layer of plastic and a layer of towel-like fabric.Alice had a big wooden box with dozens of these that the girls made in the club. The girls were very excited to show me what they made and not embarrassed at all. They were going home and showing their mothers and aunties how to make them too. Since there is no money for a proper latrine, a tippy tap and a tent was set-aside on campus for the girls.And…teen girl’s attendance is finally on the rise!

There is NO access or funds for disposable sanitary products. Its totally unrealistic.  So, this is a simple, sustainable solution has become an effective part of my partner’s outreach program.My Back to School Fund-Matching Campaign will help fund sanitation education, like the one I visited in Uganda.I reached my goal of $20,000.00 and this money will help me dig deeper than a well! THANK YOU for supporting it. Water is just the beginning.It is important to ask “what’s next!”Alice and her students helped me see the next step that is needed to empower these girls to lift themselves out of poverty.

LemonAID Warriors in AFRICA!!

Ever since I saw Lion King when I was 3 years old, I have been in love with Africa. When I found out the people there were among the neediest people in the world, I knew I wanted to help and decided to start by trying to meet their most basic need: Water.  This summer I had the honor of visiting some of the water projects I have helped fund in the most northern regions of Uganda. I met the local people who built and maintain the water projects we have helped to fund. I promised to relay their message--"Send your warriors our greetings and thank them for caring about people they have never even met." I'm deeply inspired by the dignity, graciousness and hard work they put into caring for these wells so they can stand on their own.

Thank you Warriors!  This summer I visited the remotest areas of northern Uganda where I saw the water projects we helped to fund and I met the local people who build and maintain these life-saving wells.  They asked me to "send their greetings and thanks to all of you who care about us even though you have never met us".

ABC Summer of Service Grant

Thanks to Youth Service America, I found out about this grant.  I have applied for their grants before without luck but after my amazing summer in Africa, I figured I had a better chance.  It worked!  I am so excited to use this grant in a creative way!  Usually I just donate prize money to my partners.  But I feel a responsibility to use this grant to grow my Water Walk 2014 and engage more kids in my community.  YSA is all about engaging youth so I want to honor them by combining my passion projects with their goals.  Stay tuned while I figure out how to get the most mileage from this very generous grant! Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 1.33.41 AM

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

I am deeply honored to receive this award, along with 12 other youth activists.  Gloria Barron lived a life of service and her son is carrying on her legacy by empowering a new generation of activists.  I am donating my prize money to support sustainable solutions to the water crisis in Africa.  This donation will help generations of Africans lift themselves out of poverty by taking the first steps toward a healthy tomorrow.  Please read about the other 2013 winners of this prize and the amazing work they are doing. Share their stories! Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 1.25.35 AM

Montage Humanitarian Award

It so amazing to me that there are big companies out there who are interested in the work of youth philanthropists.  The Montage Memory Makers Humanitarian Award honors 5 young change makers every year and I am so honored to be included in such impressive company.  Their recognition makes me want to work harder to live up to the ideals that they have chosen me to represent.  To all the Warriors out there, I would be so happy to nominate you next year, if you contact me and share your work on my site.