Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bucket Brigade

These are pictures from the founding meeting of The Bucket Brigade on January 9. This new charitable organization is the brainchild of Monique Doyle Spencer (seen above) after meeting Samuel Kuacliet (below). It is further described in a Boston Globe story today by Adrian Walker.

Samuel's village in southern Sudan was attacked in 1987 when he was tending the cows, and at age 6 he and his family walked 1000 miles to Ethiopia to escape. A number of the refugees were eaten by lions along the way, or starved, or otherwise perished. After the war between Eritrea and Ethiopa erupted, they returned to Sudan. During this rainy season walk, a number of refugees were eaten by crocodiles, or starved, or otherwise perished. They were forced to leave Sudan again in 1992, this time to Kenya.

In 2001, Samuel managed to immigrate to the USA. Seventeen years later, he returned to his village in Sudan and saw his mother again. During that intervening period, he did not know whether she was alive or dead.

He brought back money and goods for his community. When Monique heard this story, she decided to start a charity to provide direct assistance to this village, called Yirol. As noted on the website:

We’ve adopted one village. We’re a group of volunteers, so the overhead will be minimal. Each year, our volunteer will go home and, working with the villagers, assess the highest needs.

That’s when we spring into action, wiring funds directly to merchants and our volunteer. We monitor every penny and encourage new ideas to help the people of the village develop self-reliant ways to survive.

I was honored to be asked to serve as a founding member of this board. I hope you will find the story compelling and contribute funds to serve this small corner of the world.


Anonymous said...

Great story, Paul.

It's especially gratifying to see that the villagers are actually going to be asked what they need, not told.

Joe said...

I had occasion to spend time with some of the "Lost Boys"
when I lived in San Diego. An amazingly resilient and overall extraordinary group of men.

coulrophobic agnostic said...

Amen to that, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately when I clicked the 'contact us' button on the website to obtain an address to which to send a check, my computer informed me of a possible 'clickjacking' attempt, whether I either enabled or disabled javascript. ?????? (I am far from a computer maven.) Have others had this problem?
Is it possible to just email me a contribution mailing address, Paul? Thanks.


Anonymous said...


The Bucket Brigade
327 Clark Road
Brookline, MA 02445

Ileana said...

I saw villages like this in Ethiopia as well. You can’t imagine the poverty. You can see villages with little round huts made of mud with a grass roof. They probably are as big as a kitchen in US. When we saw them, in January, the whole yard was just dusty dirt, and for fence they grew cactus. No roads, no electricity, no water. They might have had cattle, otherwise I have no idea how these people lived. Near the rivers they might grow potatoes and onion and a local grain that they use for injira – the sour pancake.

There are two rainy seasons: the long one is from July-September, the short one just finished, it’s about two weeks in February. That’s the only time they have to grow anything. For the rest of the time it’s dry and hot. Last year there was no rain in the short rainy season. A few years back there was no rain at all. People die a lot.

I read a few articles for a paper I was writing about healthcare in Ethiopia, and I realized how different this feels when you see it as opposed to read about it. I read about health posts, and accessibility to healthcare: give them water and food first, then you can think about healthcare. They don’t have a car to go to the doctor, hey maybe they are lucky enough to have a donkey that would help them get a sick kid to the health post.

I hope we can do something for these people. Thanks for talking about this.

mdspencer said...

Dear nonlocal -- thanks for pointing out the problem with the contact form. I've added a line on that page that if readers have trouble with that form they can e-mail us directly at I can't seem to get it to work for all browsers and readers. I wouldn't have known if you hadn't reported it, so THANKS. Who knows how many people we could have missed? Sincerely,

Monique Doyle Spencer

Unknown said...

The straightforward approach that the Bucket Brigade is taking seems quite wise. Thank you, Paul, for alerting us to this opportunity to help.

Anonymous said...


Oh, thanks - I was mostly convinced it was my own computer ineptitude that led to the problem! (: