Christina Rydland was born in Ethiopia and spent 13 years of her life living in Sub-Saharan Africa, so it’s not an exaggeration to say this project is close to home! The child of missionaries, she has always been inspired by her parents’ work. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Global Studies and International Affairs at Northeastern University. She was initially motivated through work on her thesis — “Quality of Life Through Clean Water: A set of case studies from Ethiopia” — and wanted to raise money for a well to show how easy it is to make a big difference. Her generous spirit and passion for clean water led to this project: Signe’s Well.

Signe’s Well will be built in conjunction with our partner FACE Africa’s County by County (CbC) Initiative. This program aims to provide ALL of Liberia with clean water, one county at a time. Read more about the CbC Initiative here.

Q&A with Christina

What inspired you to start your own fundraising campaign? Is there anyone you would like to dedicate it to, or any special event that motivated you?

I would like to dedicate this well to my Mom, Signe, whom lived most of her life in Ethiopia. She passed away from cancer in February 2011 and I wanted to do something in remembrance of her passion and dedication to those in need. She was a nurse and midwife and for many years the only medical staff in the area where my parents lived in western Ethiopia. Because of this, she treated everything from water-borne diseases to toothaches and child labor. She worked with women and children especially, and saw the effects of unsafe water firsthand. I am positive that she would be honored to know that there is a well in her name that was alleviating some of these issues in her beloved Sub-Saharan Africa.

What do you feel is the most important message to share with others about the need for access to clean water in Sub-Saharan Africa?

The one thing I would like people to know about this immense need is that it is real and it is happening every single day. Young girls and their mothers collect water and spend up to 6 hours round trip just to bring back a small jug of water. This is supposed to cover their entire daily need, but because of the distances and heavy burden – it is usually not enough and they turn to unsafe sources because it is easier. By providing a well or water access point close to their villages, this strain is taken away from the mothers and girls – and they can use their time more productively like going to school or opening up a small business.

How and when did you first learn of Voss Foundation?

I have always been a great fan of VOSS Water and have used (and reused) their glass bottles for many years. I followed VOSS Water on Twitter and saw something about Voss Foundation and immediately felt that I had found something I wanted to get involved with. I contacted Kara and Kathleen and offered to volunteer at their Women Helping Women event in Boston. After that I heard they were looking for an intern at their NYC office and applied. I have now spent 3 months here and am sad to leave, but it has been a great experience and I am so happy to have been part of this and gained so much knowledge about the need and what I can do to help.

Through my campaign, Signes Well, I hope that people understand that so little is needed in order to make a change. By giving up one or two Starbucks coffees a week for a month, each and every person I know could give $32 to Voss Foundation and Signe’s well. That is a very small sacrifice when you know how many people will benefit from it in the long run. From January 1st to March 25th, which is the time period which I am writing my thesis, I want to encourage my friends and family to donate whatever they feel comfortable giving towards the project I have chosen.

Learn more about your impact through Voss Foundation:

Just like a drop of water in a bucket, access to clean water creates a ripple effect in a community.  In its first four years, the Voss Foundation’s water projects have facilitated access to clean water for over 100,000 people in communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.  Your individual contribution adds another ripple, building on our progress to help even more people!  See how your impact goes way beyond water to bring positive change to a community through The Ripple Effect.