Connecting the Local with the Global

Fibertech Networks' community commitment extends to people in Southern Sudan 

November 2009

Fibertech Networks is a leader in building and operating fiber optic networks throughout mid-size cities in the Eastern and Central regions of the United States.

Twice each year, the company, headquartered in Rochester, NY, gathers employees together for a meeting to share company performance and inspire people with presentations by outside speakers, such as an advertising executive who climbed Mt. Everest.

 "The company's goal with these meetings," says Mike Hurley, VP of Sales and Marketing, "is to motivate people to overcome barriers, be persistent and make a difference, not just for our customers but for our community."  That sentiment sums up the company's operating philosophy where CEO and founder John Purcell and his management team lead by example.

So when Hurley learned of Salva Dut and his work, he knew that Salva's story would be perfect to share with the employees of Fibertech. He asked Dan Clifton, the company's Director of Marketing, to put it together. Salva was engaged to speak at the company's summer 2009 meeting. But it didn't stop there.

Homework for everyone

With the thoroughness that characterizes the company, employees were prepared for Salva's visit. Clifton purchased and distributed to all employees a story called They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, about Sudan's civil war that chronicles life as "Lost Boys of Sudan."

"The idea was to give everyone a grounding in the story of the 'Lost Boys.' We felt it important to educate everyone on the story to help put into perspective the type of situation faced by Salva and others when they were just young kids," says Clifton. "I have two boys, ten and six years old. The plight of these children from Sudan hit home and I couldn't imagine my boys surviving that type of experience."

So when Salva spoke to the 200 Fibertech employees, they had already done their homework.

Fibertech connects with Water for Sudan

Salva, after showing the film "Just Add Water," and speaking about his life and work, answered questions.  Salva was asked by CEO Purcell what the company could do to help. Purcell then spontaneously pledged the company to support Water for Sudan in the drilling of a well. That response reflected how the plight of Southern Sudan's people and Salva's entrepreneurial leadership resonated with the Fibertech community.
The company provided Salva with a banner to photograph at the well site when it's completed. Clifton also plans to post a link and map on the Fibertech website in the future so employees can stay in touch with Water for Sudan's progress.

"Salva touched a lot of people on so many levels,"

says Clifton. "Many employees have stopped me in the hallway since, commenting on how Salva has touched their lives. From not taking things for granted to saying things like 'He's inspired me to think I can do anything,' Salva's message still resonates long after his speech ended."

At Fibertech Networks, they know what it means to connect the local with the global to make a difference for people.


An Evening with Water for Sudan

Drilling Wells & Transforming Lives: "Inspiring and thought provoking."

September 21, 2009

On Monday evening, September 21st, Water for Sudan, Inc., hosted its annual community event at the Eastman House's Dryden Theatre in Rochester, New York. The free event included video highlights from this year's Southern Sudan drilling season, recognition for outstanding supporters, and a panel discussion on key issues affecting Southern Sudan. The DreamSeeds dance and drumming youth group energized the audience with their performances which opened and ended the evening.

The panel discussion was moderated by Angelique Stevens, Water for Sudan Board member and Monroe Community College professor. Panelists included Salva Dut, president of Water for Sudan and Field operations leader; Alephonsion Deng, Sudanese-American, a former "Lost Boy of Sudan", award-winning co-author of They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky; JB Manin, scholar, lawyer, activist; John Turner, Water for Sudan's COO and; Nancy Reinert, Water for Sudan Board member.

Each panelist shared views and experience related to water as a basic human right, the need in Southern Sudan, and the environmental, cultural and political challenges in meeting that need. Listen to the panel discussion.

An audience of 200 plus asked questions and recorded comments such as:

"Very informative evening - many thanks!"

"It's an honor to be a small part of Water for Sudan's celebration of life through water."

"Thank you for tonight! Inspiring and thought provoking."

Listen to audience Q&A.

The event was not a fund-raiser but at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church Hall reception which followed, two gift checks totaling  $12,500 were presented to Salva and Board Chair Chris Moore; one from fundraising
by First Congregational Church of Riga, New York, and another by Bonnie Lloyd of Rochester whose gift honors her granddaughter. 

Alephonsion Deng and his co-author Judy Bernstein signed dozens of copies of They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky.

Panel discussion and Q&A were recorded and are available:

Download MP3 recording of Panel Discussion (37 minutes, 17MB)

Download MP3 recording of Audience Q&A (12 minutes, 6MB)



2009 Drilling Season Update

14 new wells mark most productive and challenging season to date

June 2009

Thanks to the generosity and commitment of supporters, this year’s Water for Sudan drilling season in Southern Sudan was the most productive to date. It was marked with several firsts including a new drilling team as well as familiar and new challenges.

The two teams combined to drill 14 new wells, the highest number in a single Water for Sudan season. 2009’s wells bring the total number of successful wells drilled since 2005 to 43. Those wells mean safe, drinkable water is now flowing to tens of thousands of people in remote Southern Sudanese villages.

Ater Thiep continued leading Team A, who overcame early technical issues to drill 13 new wells in the Bahr-al-Ghazal area, in western Southern Sudan. That area is where Water for Sudan has been operating since its initial 2005 drilling season. Later in the season, Ater was joined by Salva Dut who, along with Dep Tuany, assembled and led the new drilling team, Team B.

Early success for new team

Team B became Water for Sudan’s second drilling operation and the first to drill in Southern Sudan's eastern states. Setting up Team B was initiated by Dep with support from Burl Jordan and fellow members of the Rancho Santa Fe Club of Rotary International. The team’s equipment featured a brand-new truck-mounted drilling rig which provides greater drilling power than smaller, towed drill rigs.

This year, the new team’s ultimate operating area was to be Maiwut County, Dep’s birthplace, near the Ethiopian border in Southern Sudan’s Upper Nile state, where many of his family still live.

In early March, working together for the first time to field test equipment, the team completed its first borehole well in Malek, a small village outside of Bor. They then began the 600-mile journey to Maiwut in the northeast.

That arduous journey over nearly impassable rutted dirt roads at an average speed of 10 to 15 miles per hour tested the new team's perseverance and ingenuity. They battled not only the expected challenges but also a range of new obstacles, including support truck breakdowns.

Unexpected obstacles

Ultimately, Team B reached Maiwut, but with limited supplies and drilling rods due to the loss of the largest support truck. The aquifer in that area is at a greater depth than in Bahr-al-Ghazahl, so the lack of sufficient drilling rods, combined with inadequate surface water needed for drilling due to being late in the dry season, meant no wells could be drilled in Maiwut this year. However, Team B’s effort and learning has positioned Water for Sudan to fulfill its commitments to the people in Maiwut. Most necessary supplies and equipment are in place for next year’s season, stored with the local government commissioners and villagers.

Overall, it was another Water for Sudan drilling season that accomplished much. The reach and impact of the organization was expanded as 14 more wells were successfully completed. A new team and area of operation were added. New challenges were confronted and lessons learned by both teams, their leaders, and the entire organization.

The results are a foundation for operations in the upcoming season and the years ahead.


Water for Sudan: Kyoto Prize Candidate

Water for Sudan showcased at global water conference

March 2009

The 5th World Water Forum was held March 16th through 22nd in Istanbul, Turkey. The World Water Forum, held every three years, is organized by the World Water Council in close collaboration with the authorities of the hosting country. According to the Council, the Forum is the largest international event in the field of water. 

The Forum provides an opportunity for discussion and collaboration among water experts, governments and non-governmental organizations who focus on water-related issues affecting millions around the world.

This year, Water for Sudan, Inc., was selected to be a candidate for the Forum's prestigious Kyoto Prize. The Prize honors an individual or organization for, in the words of the award's subtitle, "Contributing to the Millennium Development Goals through grassroots initiatives." The award is recognition of the recipient's grassroots-level work toward addressing critical water needs of communities and regions.

John Turner, Water for Sudan's Chief Operating Officer and Board member, represented the organization at the Forum and presented the Water for Sudan story to the Forum's global audience. Such presentations by all candidates are part of the award process.

Although ultimately not selected for the Prize, "It was a great honor and opportunity for such a young, small organization like ours," says John. "To be part of such a global event, to get the chance to share the work we're doing in partnership with the Southern Sudanese people, can only help our mission."



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