The FRIENDS Story
Friends of Woni International was created as a response to deliver a critical resource and we hope that you will be inspired by our Woni (Swahili) – Vision. Evie Treen and Magdalene Ngina believed in the combined power of providing safe water and supporting education in underserved communities that receive little to no support from the governments in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are essential conditions needed to enable communities to break the cycle of devastation. Our agreed approach was to build on communities’ existing spirit of involvement and ownership which would allow people to feel enabled, energized and empowered.
Friends of Woni International is a registered non-profit registered in the USA that was founded by Evie Treen and Todd Hawlett in 2006. Together with Marcia Nielsen, current president of Friends of Woni and past-president Miguel Avila, they have been to East Africa many times identifying communities that suffer from severe droughts, and are in-need of dependable safe water and access to quality education. In addition, they have offered community training programs in sustainability within families.
To achieve true long-term sustainability, simply providing access to water is not enough, quality education is a prerequisite too. – Evie Treen
FRIENDS founder Evie Treen with Woni Educational Trust founder Magdalene Ngina in Goleta. To date, Friends of Woni has impacted more than 15,000 community members.
By empowering women to take on leadership roles and including them on the board within the Community Based Organizations that we coordinate with on water projects, Friends of Woni has been able to truly impact communities and help change the cycle of inter-generational lack of opportunities. We test our results through a multi-layered system that documents project outputs, outcomes and overall impact in terms of sustainable access to water, quality education, training programs in varied approaches that increase the impact generated by our projects.
Friends of Woni supports education programs in rural community-run pre-schools through collaboration by putting public primary and high schools in the center of holistic community services, allowing the schools to become a portal for large-scale social change. This approach invites families to be part of the solutions and build communities that invest in their own futures – in the long-run, transforming the rural lack of opportunities while creating future community leaders. Our education goes beyond academics, we provide daily nourishment health care, strategic support, high school scholarship programs, uniforms and school facilities that enhance learning in classrooms.
Lack of access to water is the harsh reality of many in the remote villages of Africa. Every day, millions of women and girls walk for miles on end just to fetch and carry water, creating a cycle of inequality. The daily pressure of these factors make it impossible to develop one’s full potential or even dream a better life. Their lives are often burdened, not only by lack of access to water, but also by insufficient crop harvest, limited access to education which often leads to preventable circumstances. In short, they are caught in a vicious circle of surviving in desperation. Friends of Woni’s mission is to connect people for purpose with a vision where all people – even in the most remote areas of the world have the ability to create opportunity for themselves and others.