Our New Campaign: Coffee Meets Water

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It’s the official launch of our ‪#‎CoffeeMeetsWater‬ campaign! We’re kicking things off with a hilarious new video we made, where 5 kids told us what they would do if there were people in Africa who didn’t have clean drinking water. Watch below:

Now that you know these kiddos are ready to go fix some wells, are you? Awesome. Here’s what you need to know…

Our mission: To fix 22 broken water wells in Sidama, Ethiopia, a leading producer of coffee beans. The way we see it: they help us get our fix, so let’s help get theirs fixed.

Background: We found 38 water wells in the region of Sidama, but 22 of them are broken—that’s 58%! And that means thousands are going without clean water every day just because these wells haven’t been repaired.

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4 of the 22 broken water wells in Sidama, Ethiopia

So who’s fixing the wells? Let us introduce you to the amazing Cody:

Our goal: Each well repair costs $250, so we just need to raise $5,500 to fix the wells and bring back clean, fresh water to every resident in Sidama. $5,500 is totally doable!

What you can do: 

  • Read all about our Indiegogo campaign, then share, share, share! We’d love to see you post about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (and tag us along the way! Facebook: @goodneighborsusa; Twitter: @goodneighbors; Instagram: @goodneighbors)
  • Donate! Some of our donors so far have decided to brew their own coffee in the morning or bring a packed lunch to save some money and give to our campaign. Share what you’re giving up on social media with #coffeemeetswater and we’ll re-post your story/photo!

All set? Let’s fix some wells together.

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Meet Ara: Our Guatemala Volunteer


What’s it like to spend a month volunteering in Guatemala? Ara Cho, an undergrad at the University of Missouri, Kentucky double-majoring in sociology and psychology, shares some highlights of her experience abroad:  

Beginnings with Good Neighbors Guatemala

I stepped out of the airport into a crowd of people. It was incredibly busy, there were shop owners selling souvenirs and gifts all along the streets, and the atmosphere around me was full of life. I’ll always remember these sights and sounds when I arrived l in Guatemala for the first time.

There’s an African proverb I like: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.” My passion is people and I believe that everyone has their own mark to make on this world. Some marks are broad and some are small, but they all make a difference.

I first heard about Good Neighbors from a friend who teaches abroad in Guatemala and knew two Good Neighbors Guatemala interns. I learned about the organization through them and called the office to set up an interview—I was accepted as an intern and started my one month of service on May 21st.

I love that even though Good Neighbors works in more than 30 countries, each country creates projects that accommodate specific goals and causes to its demogrphic. In Guatemala, I focused on Project Cookstoves, an initiative where Good Neighbors builds new stoves for families. Globally, about three billion people cook on primitive cookstoves made from little more than wood and dirt, and there are about 1.9 million deaths caused by smoke inhalation. Children also have to walk miles to collect firewood instead of attending school.



Seeing Project Cookstoves firsthand: A trip to Acatenango

One of my favorite experiences during my internship was going down to the community of Acatenango and meeting the families we were building cookstoves for. They were incredibly welcoming, inviting us into their homes and offering us black bean soup and homemade tortillas. Every home was different–some big and some small–but what they all had in common was their primitive cookstoves. I only stepped into the kitchen for a few minutes and my eyes were already watering and my throat was burning. The walls were charred black from smoke. Residents here manage to cook on these stoves three times a day, and it takes a huge toll on their bodies and on the environment. I saw firsthand how important a new cookstove was and I’ll never forget that.


Office life and next steps

When I wasn’t out in the field, I helped out in the operations department. I designed templates and promotional posts for social media, and it felt nice to bring out my creativity for a good cause. I also went around town with the staff and dropped off donation boxes at local stores so we could collect extra funds from shoppers for our community development and educational projects.

Most importantly, though, I loved the people I worked with during my internship. I was only there for a month, but everyone does so much–research, phone calls, meetings–and I can’t believe I only saw a glimpse of what they take on year-round.  There was a great joy to the office, too: laughter, inside jokes, music, and yes, the occasional dancing.

Now that I’m back in the states, I’ll be starting school again soon and finishing my college degree.  Volunteering with Good Neighbors Guatemala was truly a privilege. I learned so much and am so glad to share this experience with you.

Thanks so much, Ara! Learn more about how you can volunteer in Guatemala with us or e-mail volunteer@goodneighbors.org for more information.

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Korea’s First Astronaut, Seattle Eats, and More


Our media team flew out to Seattle last week to film an interview with Soyeon Yi, Korea’s very first astronaut and our brand-new #DoGoodToday Captain for the Ticket To Rise campaign (watch our new video above!). If you haven’t heard, Ticket To Rise is our largest campaign to date and your opportunity to win a private trip to space (in case you’re reading that with disbelief, we’re totally serious and it’s a totally real prize). Every time you donate to Good Neighbors, you’ll be entered to win a seat on the XCOR Lynx Mark II spacecraft,  lifting off next year and reaching an altitude of 100 km (338,000 feet)—allowing you to claim the title of ‘Astronaut’ upon return. This is all possible thanks to partnerships with VICE Media and The Urgency Network.

Soyeon is a longtime Good Neighbors supporter and we were stoked to have her on board to talk about her space travels—who better to explain our campaign than a real-life astronaut? Plus, she’s hilarious, humble, and just all-around cool.

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We met up with her at Seattle’s Museum of Flight where she’s volunteering at a kids’ space camp during the summer, and talked to her about the craziest thing she did at zero gravity, her favorite food in space, and the first thing she wanted to do when she landed back on Earth (see her answers in the video above).

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Many thanks to the Museum of Flight for hosting us! If you haven’t been to this museum before, it’s a must if you’re traveling to Seattle. It’s an incredible display of all types of planes throughout history, and you can even tour a B-17 bomber from World War II!

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Our media team may have eaten extremely well on the trip–Seattle has so many irresistible options (especially at Pike Place Market)! If you’re heading out there soon, we highly recommend the following:


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Nick Walker for Good Neighbors: Our First Phone Case!

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So guess what we’ve been up to for the past few months? JUST COLLABORATING WITH STREET ARTIST NICK WALKER ON THIS NEW PHONE CASE.

The finished product is a beautiful laser-cut phone case created by PrinkTech and featuring Nick’s artwork and available in bamboo, cherry, and walnut. And you know there’s a #DoGoodToday twist: with every phone case you purchase, a portion will be donated to Good Neighbors to help us build more schools for communities throughout Africa.

Available for purchase now through Hope Supply & Co + FNDRFL! Compatible for iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s.  Designs for Samsung Galaxy are expected soon.



About Nick Walker:

You may have seen Nick’s work before–he’s one of the world’s best-known street artists and a forerunner in the British graffiti phenomenon–and we’re so grateful to have him on board for this project. His work has become a blueprint for hundreds of emerging artists and is constantly evolving and extending the technical, thematic, and aesthetic boundaries of street art.

Nick’s artistic influence has also left its mark on the film and music industry. He was selected by the late Stanley Kubrick to work on his last film, Eyes Wide Shut, where he created the visually stunning artwork of the streets of New York on the film’s outdoor sets. Nick’s iconic “Vandal” character was also featured in the Black Eyed Peas’ music video “I Gotta Feeling,” which has been seen by over 160 million viewers on YouTube alone.

In addition to commissioned pieces in galleries and hotels worldwide, Nick’s significance also extends to international architecture projects. Nick was one of two artists selected to carry out a visionary and contemporary architectural development project in Mallorca in conjunction with WideWalls and Casa Son Vida and was featured in over 40 international publications, including ones in China, Russia, Mexico, Italy, Greece and Lebanon.

In 2013, Royal Doulton, the legendary British fine china brand, commissioned Nick to create art for a dinnerware series. The limited edition series sold out almost immediately and this collaboration was Royal Doulton’s first step in establishing its brand in a more modern form with its Street Art collection.

Check out more on Nick Walker and follow him on Instagram.

But most of all, get your hands on his new phone case! Available for purchase now through Hope Supply & Co + FNDRFL.

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Chocolates For A Cause

Left-Andrew Phillips Right-Aaron Jung

Pictured: Andrew Phillips (left) and Aaron Jung (right)

Our newest Good Neighbors high school club, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Southern California, is already off to a pretty sweet start.

The club was co-founded by juniors James Houk and Aaron Jung to raise awareness and support for our Project Cookstoves initiative, and it launched at the beginning of  their Spring 2014 semester. Their goal? To raise $800 to build two cookstoves for families in Guatemala. And their most recent fundraiser? Getting all 10 club members to sell World’s Finest Chocolate bars during lunch from March through May to some sweet-tooth hungry students.

Left-Arman Ramezani and Right-James Houk

Pictured: Arman Ramezani (left) and James Houk (right)

The club sold a total of ten boxes of chocolate (500 bars in total), making a profit of $250 after the initial cost of the chocolates. To date, they’ve raised $350 from other fundraisers and only need $50 more to build a cookstove. They plan on fundraising during the summer and the Fall semester to reach their $800 overall goal.

Right-Max Shafer and Left-Caroline Peacock

Pictured: Max Shafer (left) and Caroline Peacock (left)

Interested in starting a Good Neighbors club at your high school or college campus? E-mail us at volunteer@goodneighbors.org.

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