Sisters Sell Origami To Bring Clean Water To Poor Countries, Practice The Art Of Giving

This delicate art is making a powerful impact.

These two sisters have transformed the craft of origami into the art of giving.

Isabelle and Katherine Adams are the co-presidents of Paper for Water, a nonprofit that sells paper-folded ornaments to raise money to build clean water wells in impoverished countries. As of this spring, their craft has helped raise over $650,000 to drill more than 70 wells around the globe, Ken Adams, the girls’ father, told The Huffington Post in an email.

The idea to use origami for charity came about in 2011. Adams, who is half Japanese, learned the art at an early age and wanted to teach it to his daughters, now ages 9 and 11. It caught on quickly.  

“[Origami] started piling up around the house so [the girls] decided to have an event at Starbucks and sell ornaments to raise money for a water well,” Adams told HuffPost.

At the event, which took place in November 2011, the girls’ goal was to raise $500 to help partially fund a well in Ethiopia. But donations poured in and the origami ornaments sold out within one night. Just a month later, the sisters had raised over $10,000, according to Paper for Water’s website.

“It’s fun and it’s social and it’s a good way to use your brain to help other people,” Katherine told Good News Network.

The organization partners with the nonprofit Living Water International to identify where a well should be placed and which residents will help maintain it.

“And then a significant amount of health and sanitation training occurs,” Adams said. “Retraining the community and providing them with the equipment necessary to make these changes is essential.”

So far, Paper for Water has helped build wells in Kenya, Liberia, India, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mexico, Uganda, Peru and Zimbabwe. Most recently, the sisters visited a well they helped to fund on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, and held an origami workshop.

“If everyone in this world helps a little, it all adds up to a lot,” Isabelle told Good News Network. “Folding origami is an easy way for people of any age to help change the world.”

About 40 percent of the funds Paper for Water raises comes in exchange for origami ornaments, with the rest coming from outside partners and matching donors. To make a donation or get involved, check out the group’s website.


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