Penn State Brandywine students help provide Afghans with clean water

Penn State alumnus Aldo Magazzeni has spent years traveling to Afghanistan to rebuild the country by providing clean water. After he met with a class of undergraduate students at Penn State Brandywine last spring, they, too, wanted to help.

The Women's Studies 400 class created a campaign to raise enough money to build one water system. The approximate cost, according to Magazzeni, is $7,000. The students asked for just $3.50 from members of the campus and their friends and family, knowing that if everyone donated they could reach their goal. The class has since raised and donated $6,000, which Magazzeni put to good use over the summer.

Money in hand, Magazzeni left for a seven-week trip to Afghanistan, where he installed three village water systems that will provide clean water for 2,000 families (or 15,000 people, two-thirds of them children). "These families in the outskirts of Herat actually had no unpolluted water source," the instructor for the class, Phyllis Cole, said.

"While building the systems, (Magazzeni) spoke in mosques and high schools and used the campus' campaign as his best example of the people-to-people work behind the money," Cole, professor of English, women's studies and American studies, said.

Magazzeni also supplied new enhancements for a women's shelter created by Afghanistan's leading women's rights advocate Suraya Pakzad, who visited the campus last March. The women received a TV/DVD player, at their special request, a juicer-blender for the kitchen, and water for two women's restaurants, where even the most veiled wives can meet and talk with one another.

For his return to the country this month, Magazzeni is planning a school-related water project that will have the Penn State Brandywine name on a plaque and will celebrate the educational tie. The project will supply clean water to a school in the Panjsher Valley of northeastern Afghanistan.

Magazzeni, of Perkiomenville, is founder and director of Traveling Mercies, "a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping others, while creating a vehicle to remove barriers between cultures so that individuals can share their strengths, assets, and blessings with each other," based in Lumberton, N.J.

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Last Updated October 13, 2009