zam zam

The Best Birthday Present I'll Ever Get

A few months ago I decided to do something truly special for my birthday. I realized I've been nothing short of blessed in my life, I have everything I've ever wanted but there are people who don't. It is 100% our responsibility to take care of others, we will be questioned why we didn't. That's when I reached out to the Zam Zam team.

I decided to start a crowd funding campaign in hopes of building a water well in Rwanda. The possibility of me not raising the funds in time for my birthday was not an option. In 15 days, people made it happen, when that last donation hit, I was on my lunch break, holding back tears, it really tug at my heart, we did it, we built something together that'll benefit not only the people of Rwanda but ourselves. When our time comes, it'll be this water well that'll give us a constant reward we all could use.

My biggest fear was making sure my intentions were clear and for the right reasons, if for some reason I don't get the reward from my creator for it, I at least hope it encourages others to do so and maybe that is what I can be rewarded for.

This water well gave me purpose. In difficult times I'm going to look back and remember what we all did together. I wanted to give everyone sawab (blessings from the creator), we'll all need it. I'm dedicating this to my family and all of you who shared the campaign, donated and prayed for this all to work out. Thank you all for the best birthday present I'll ever get.

- Mustafa

Built with Bitcoin

As an organization, we have always felt the importance of thinking different, remaining open-minded, and not being attached to a set way of doing things. Flowing, like water, has enabled us to grow and impact the world despite the adversity that we face along the way. 

Our newest initiative is Education is Life. The hope for this project has been to develop two schools in two different countries (Rwanda and Afghanistan), highlighting the importance of education. Zam Zam is not just about building water wells. Our mission is to create a better quality of life, and we believe education is an integral part of this complex equation. Solving complex problems doesn’t happen alone. 2017 has marked an important moment in our organization. We have crossed the chasm from being a small organization to having a strong footprint all over the world while still remaining 100% volunteer-based. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with individuals and organizations, because nothing in this world can be achieved alone.

In September of this year, an organization by the name of Paxful reached out to us in hopes of contributing to our Education is Life project, specifically the school we were building in Rwanda. Paxful, a Peer to Peer Bitcoin marketplace connecting buyers with sellers, has a mission to give working people a simple, fair and secure platform for trading the value of their work. Shortly after the team at Paxful contacted us, Zam Zam sent them a proposal that included the infrastructure of the school, the water well project, and the farming crop system. Paxful approved and sent us the funds in order to begin development of the school. You may be asking; what does a Bitcoin company have to do with Zam Zam Water? Paxful cares about corporate responsibility, and they believe that positive things can happen through Bitcoin. The Education is Life project is not only a model for what can be built with Bitcoin, but is a model for how we create and sustain successful corporate partnerships.

Paxful was updated throughout every step of our development. Upon completion of the school, Paxful intended on visiting the site to see where their contributions went. The team at Zam Zam curated an entire four day trip from the moment Paxful landed in Rwanda to the moment they left. We were able to partner with local organizations to setup a gorilla trekking tour, a tour of the genocide memorial, as well as an entire day at village to get to know the people of Rwanda first-hand. Paxful wasn’t there to observe. They were there to serve. Throughout the trip the team at Paxful got their hands dirty and even contributed physical labor to the water projects. Two months after Paxful donated to the Education is Life cause, they were able to visit the site and realize the potential of partnering with Zam Zam. 

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This is the spirit of partnership. It’s about transparency, authenticity, hard work, and pure intentions. This relationship with Paxful has enabled Zam Zam to venture out into deeper and stronger relationships with potential partners in the future. 

Potential ways your organization can partner with Zam Zam:

  • Corporate Gift
  • Percentage of Sale
  • Round-Up
  • Matching
  • Support Pipeline
  • Support Opperations
  • Gifts In Kind
  • Employee Fundraising
  • Customer Fundraising
  • Community Outreach
  • Media Support and Inventory
  • Gifted Social Media
  • Event Integration

BTC (Bitcoin): 3Q5CESP85hhXTLSy2HDbSyNchb5Bi8D7ku

BCH (Bitcoin Cash): 15YGniLxo77kfMUWGoRNT6ShUQC93MvaXg

If interested in partnering up with Zam Zam, please contact Builtwithbitcoin@zamzamwater.org.

God's Home - Experiences From Rwanda By Omar Kohgadai

Not too long ago, the Zam Zam team took a trip to Rwanda - a country where your support has helped us build 6 water projects and a school. The purpose was twofold: first, to grow as individuals by meeting to the people that we serve and secondly, to bring back content that forges a connection between the people that we serve and our donors. As a member of the Creative team, it was my undertaking to bridge this gap. I was tasked with responsibility of capturing not just our projects but stories from the people. Stories from a different country that the rest of the world needed to hear.

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On our first day there we visited an old church that is now a historical genocide site. The story is that a large crowd of Tutsis sought refuge inside the church, all to be crossed by their Reverend, who informed the Hutu authorities to come and ransack the church. I walked in and immediately felt the presence of not just death but sheer savagery. The clothing of the victims were intentionally left there as a reminder. Not to mention the countless caskets and skulls that bore visible machete ruptures. As I walked out, emotionally taxed and regretful of what I allowed myself to see, I could hear the soothing sounds of children playing. There was a kindergarten school adjacent to the church and the kids all raced to high-five Yusuf. It was the starkest of contrasts. A polarizing interplay of life and death. Joy and pain. Past and future. Proof that, no matter what occurs, life goes on and runs its course. The cycle seizes for none. Ultimately, no tragedy can ever outrace time.

In the picture above you’ll see a former perpetrator from the genocide (left) next to a victim (right). Believe it or not, these two individuals are now friends. They even take turns watching each other's children. After the Genocide, Rwanda launched an unprecedented reconciliation initiative where the perpetrators were to make amends and gradually be reestablished into the fold of society. The level of forgiveness displayed by the Rwandan victims is beyond comprehension. It’s almost hard to believe that the human heart is capable of such unparalleled mercy. We are too familiar with the evil capacities of the heart. Turn on the news and you’ll see a story that will make you lose hope in all of mankind. Rwandans have exposed us to the other end of the heart spectrum. At that moment I thought about all the grudges I have held with people. They had never felt more trivial. The genocide has been reconciled, however, Rwanda does not bury its past. They own it and will never forget even if they forgave. Even though the perpetrator has made amends and found atonement, the emotional scars of having spilt blood were still visible in his pensive facial expression and tight shoulders. Moving onto the victim - though she has pardoned, the emotional baggage of having lost both her parents in the genocide is still visible in her captivating eyes.

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I’ve always wondered how a society could mobilize thousands of people to kill mercilessly. After this trip, I found it even more puzzling as to how a society could mobilize thousands of people to pardon those very same killers. Between these two questions, we can find an answer for both. Human beings are born pure. Hate however, is a construct. Hate is the ingredient injected into peoples mind that cause them to lose all decency and humanity. If it can be taught, then it can be untaught. If it can be injected, then it can be extracted and replaced with love, which was the primary ingredient that the Rwandan government injected into the victim’s hearts when they encouraged them to pardon their perpetrators.

As a first generation Afghan American, I come from land that has also seen far too much grief. With nearly 40 years of nonstop conflict with no foreseeable end, it’s hard to for me to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel. Rwanda serves as an exemplary model for how to move forward with conflict. Their reconciliation initiative paved way for them to heal from such a devastating catastrophe. Had Afghanistan, or any other war-torn country, taken a similar approach, then perhaps the situation would have been different?

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Rwandans have turned the most insurmountable of tragedy into triumph. They’re characterized by their warmth and cheer. Every last one of them has a story, from the politician, to the village chief, to the basket weaver that you passed by on the street. Their stories are engraved on their faces. When you look in their eyes, you see their past. All of the bloodshed. The grief. The heartbreaking tribulation. Conversely, when you look at their smiles, you see their future. The optimism. The hope. Their unwavering value for life.

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When we first landed, our tour guide said, “God travels the world all day, but He always comes home to Rwanda.” Initially this quote did not resonate with me. However, as I departed back home, I looked out the airplane window into the green and hilly landscape, one final time, and it all made sense. This is His home. This is God’s home.

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Felician

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Meet Felician. On our way to a village, we stopped by a water source used by locals and we met this villager. He works as a bricklayer, so he rides his bike 3km each way to fill up 5 jerry cans that weigh over 40 pounds. Felician lives in a village that Zam Zam has a water project in but does not to use the clean water to make bricks so he travels that distance 8 times a day to provide an income for his family.

Augustin

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Meet our translator, Augustin. A product of a Rwandan mother and a Congolese father, his childhood was plagued with interracial disputes. While living in a refugee camp in Rwanda, Augustin’s father was killed by an assassin hired by his paternal uncle. Two years later his mother passed away from lung cancer. As the eldest of four and despite these tribulations, his demeanor is coated with an unwavering level of contentment and cheer. His father once told him that a man must accept his fate or else he will be defeated by it. Instead of giving up, he and his siblings have turned tribulation into triumph by excelling in their academics. “We’re okay, we all made it” he put. 

His uncle has reached out to him, provoking him to come and “avenge his father’s death,” however his heart has no space for vengeance or hate. Not an uncommon characteristic for people in this region.

"Hope" - Experiences From Rwanda By James Losi

Many years ago, Yusuf Nessary was a student in my travel aboard program sponsored by Saint Mary’s College of California.  As he studied many topics here in Rwanda, he was the student and I was the teacher.  He was the follower and I was the leader of the class.

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Yusuf is now the founder of the Zam Zam Water Project.  A vision that began to percolate while he was a student here.  As I am sitting here in the audience, watching and participating in the ceremony that will dedicate a new elementary school in the Bugasera District, I have come to realize a dramatic and welcomed change in Yusuf.  As he presided over the dedication of the new Zam Zam Water Project school, I realized that I have become the student and Yusuf has become the teacher.  He has become the leader and I, the follower.

There is something indeed special about Yusuf, Zam Zam and the many volunteers and advocates that have embraced the vision and mission.  Yusuf, the mission of Zam Zam and the many volunteers possess an unrelenting passion for realizing the mission of Zam Zam under this unique veil of teamwork, selflessness and a never-ending sense of fun.  It is remarkable to witness.  It is even more remarkable to be able to participate and be a part of such an organization.

As I watched the school’s dedication with great pride in my heart, I tried to imagine what came before the new school that stood before me.  I also tried to imagine what was there before the new water wells were built.  The answer, fallow fields and a sense of hopelessness.  It’s not that the villagers were sad, it was just that they didn’t have a clear vision as to how their lives could possibly improve given their undeniable lack of access to clean water.

Zam Zam changed their lives today.  It provided them with their own supply of clean water along with a new elementary school.  The villagers’ reaction upon the dedication of the school and wells was stunning and inspiring.  They had a new found sense of hope and optimism.  It was at that moment when I listened to the singing and watched the many dancers, that I realize that Zam Zam is not in the water business.  It is in the “hope” business.

Today was a great day!  It has been a day that I shall never forget…

Become a part of the Zam Zam team and you too can bear witness to people driving hope was there was none.  It is also a great deal of fun.  Please come join us.