WaterBridge Outreach (WBOutreach) seeks to further the overall goals of the PaperTigers Program: bridging cultures and opening minds, promoting greater understanding and empathy among young people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. More specifically, WBOutreach works to advance education through books and reading, and development through clean and accessible water.
Since 2009, the PaperTigers Program has put books into the hands of young readers through schools and libraries, encouraging literacy, developing understanding and making reading a lifelong habit. Taking this work a step further, WBOutreach is seeking to ensure that, in areas where there is water stress or water scarcity, the children to whom the books are sent will have access to clean water and good sanitation. The possibility of effective education in certain parts of the world is linked to the basic realities of food and water. By focusing on books and water together – nourishing both the mind and body – WBOutreach continues to promote literacy and encourage children to become “hungry readers.”
Every year we send carefully chosen books to particular schools and libraries in various parts of the world. The books chosen seek to provide “multicultural” or “trans-cultural” stories that promote awareness of, knowledge about, and positive acceptance of “the other” in ways children can learn and enjoy. We are convinced of the crucial role of literacy and reading in an education that fosters understanding and empathy.
While many organizations are doing excellent work in getting books to children through schools and libraries in areas of need, the specific focus of WBOutreach is, each year, not only to select a set of books whose content and focus enhance the goals of reading and literacy, but to engage in particular areas in water projects that assist a school/village to have access to clean water and sanitation. WBOutreach’s first water projects have been successfully completed in Tamil Nadu, India, with future water projects under consideration in Nagaland, India, in La Gonav, Haiti, and in New Mexico, USA.
In addition to working with others to provide access to clean water, WBOutreach hopes to reduce the effects of such diseases as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and river blindness contracted through contact with unsafe water and poor sanitation, or malaria and dengue fever contracted through stagnant water, which continues to have devastating effects on health – particularly on children. Without adequate sanitation, education remains a distant dream for many children. Particular focus will also be given to the education of girls, where their development is often seriously impeded by long exhausting hours transporting water each day to their homes from distant water sources – water sources that are often contaminated and used by animals and humans alike.
Where possible, WBOutreach will seek to partner with other organizations or individuals in these water projects. We seek to do this in ways that effectively involve local communities: with their involvement it will ensure long term sustainability. WBOutreach will also follow up with similar “book-water projects” in the same local region or area, encouraging literacy and establishing a significant and lasting impact in that area for the good of the children and their communities.