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Engaging the Culture Archives

Aleya Mullett Hanson

Aleya Mullett Hanson"In Northern Kenya, women walk 15 miles a day just to fetch water," says Aleya Mullett Hanson, a Seattle Pacific University senior from Bellingham, Washington. "And often the water is contaminated."

A nursing and sociology major, Hanson was researching the impact of unclean water on the drought-stricken nation of Kenya for her SPU University Scholars project when she decided to do something about it.

"I started to see how powerful clean water is to African communities," she says. "And I wanted to make a difference.”

Around that time, Hanson met Zach Ward, an SPU junior from Nairobi, Kenya, who had an unexpected connection: His father was a regional director in Kenya for Christian Blind Mission (CBM), an organization fighting blindness resulting from trachoma, which is caused by unclean water. Ward told her that if she could raise funds, he could make sure CBM used the money for a clean-water project.

Motivated by this opportunity, Hanson mobilized 100 SPU students under the banner "Maji Mazuri," which in Swahili means "good water." Members of Maji Mazuri created fundraising events ranging from a 5K run around Seattle’s Green Lake in April 2007 to an art auction on SPU’s campus in May 2007.

At the same time, Hanson and others met with church leaders and philanthropic organizations in Seattle, such as the Stewardship Foundation, to secure additional donations. In June, Hanson learned that the Stewardship Foundation matched their donations for a final total of $51,000. "People in Kenya are going to have some serious maji mazuri to drink!" she says.

Impressed by her efforts and her commitment to living out SPU’s vision of changing the world, the Young Alumni Council selected Hanson to receive the 2007–08 Young Alum Scholarship. She will be awarded the honor at the annual Young Alumni Endowment Dinner on October 19, 2007.

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