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One Birthday Wish

Transforms the Lives of an Entire Village



Marie-Antoinette Boot was turning 50 and wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. However, her version of “special” was very different from what most of us would choose. She didn’t want to take a luxury cruise, head to a spa for pampering, or throw an over-the-top celebration. She wanted to make a difference. “For me, it was a time of reflection. What does my life mean? What can I leave behind?” 

A friend told Marie-Antoinette about Innovation Africa, a non-denominational group that uses advanced technology to economically build wells in Africa and bring clean drinking water to villages with limited resources. So Marie-Antoinette opted to mark her birthday by making a tangible difference in the lives of Ugandan villagers 7,000 miles away in sub-Saharan Africa.

With the support of her husband, Dirk, Marie-Antoinette “adopted” the small village of Nabweye, where sadly, one in four children was dying from drinking non-potable water. The only water source for the villagers was a small mud hole. Instead of going to school, young girls had to walk back and forth from the mud hole up to eight times a day, carrying jugs of water for their family’s daily needs. But the water was contaminated and there wasn’t enough firewood to boil and purify it, so the villagers continued to get sick. 

The Boot family funded the entire cost of the drilling and construction of a well in Nabweye. After it was completed, Marie-Antoinette and her eldest son, Henry made plans to travel to Uganda to witness the first stream of clean water flow through a spigot in the village center.

Two days before they left, Henry put out a call for soccer balls and jerseys in the hope of bringing along a few to give to the children. Wiltonians did not disappoint, and over 200 jerseys and numerous balls were donated. In addition, the Boots arranged for each of the 700 village children to receive a notebook and two pencils—educational necessities none of the students had ever possessed. 

Marie-Antoinette was dubbed KaiKha or “kind woman” by the villagers, and she and Henry were warmly received and feted. When she asked what else she could do to help, the villagers told her they needed seeds to grow crops, so she arranged for sacks of seeds to be delivered. At that point, Marie-Antoinette believed her journey was over, but as it turned out, it was just beginning. 

A villager told KaiKha about carrying her dying son 12 kilometers on a dirt road to seek medical help. Other women shared their experiences of going into labor and having to walk on foot—often in the middle of the night—to the distant medical center. If they didn’t make it in time, they were forced to deliver their babies at the side of the road. Could KaiKha help the village by building a medical center?

“I thought, I just built a well,” says Marie-Antoinette, “I can’t build a medical center! But standing next to me at the well ceremony was a minister from the Ugandan government, and he said if I could find a way to build it, he would donate the land and fully staff the center. And I thought, “‘Well that could be an interesting possibility.’”

“We’re all mothers,” she continues, “we all love our children and want the best for them. I knew I had to find a way to help. So when I came back to Wilton, I turned to our community. I made postcards about the project and distributed them to local businesses and restaurants, to dental and medical offices. I collected donations through a fiscal sponsor so all contributions would be tax deductible. I spoke at our community church and at the Kiwanis Club. I spoke wherever I could, telling people about the village of Nabweye and how, with a little money, we could collectively effect change in someone’s life.”

In two months Marie-Antoinette raised $51,000 through the generous contributions from the Wilton community. It was enough not only to build a medical center, but also to provide new school desks and chairs, and to purchase much-needed underwear for all the children in Nabweye. 

Innovation Africa stepped up and oversaw the construction of the medical center, using standardized architectural plans provided by theUgandan government. While examining the blueprints, Marie-Antoinette noticed an anomaly: there was no provision for running water or electricity. “It turns out many medical centers in Uganda don’t have running water. I raised extra money to fix that and now there are four rooms that have access to water: the exam room, the maternity room, the shower room, and the laundry.”

This past summer KaiKha returned to the village to attend the dedication ceremony for the medical center, where she presented a plaque to be affixed to the building that simply says: “Nabweye Medical Center donated by The Wilton Community.”

Thanks to the arrival of clean, accessible water, the transformation of the village has been remarkable. Crops are flourishing, villagers are healthy, and students are thriving. Women now deliver their babies in a modern medical facility with electricity, running water, and trained medical professionals. People with malaria, typhoid, and other diseases can get treatment. 

Marie-Antoinette’s new goal is to inspire other individuals and communities across the country to do what she did—bring water, supplies, and basic medical care to those needing help in developing countries.

“When you think about building a well in Africa, you think that’s not something a normal person would do, it’s something a celebrity or a philanthropist like Melinda Gates would do. But in actuality anyone can do it. You can rally your community. If you can get 400 peopleto each donate a hundred dollars you can build a well and effect change in a significant way. You can foster an economy, save lives, and help people for generations to come.” 

She pauses. “This was nothing I planned. It just happened. But I feel so grateful to be able to help make a difference in people’s lives. After all, it’s not what you take from this world; it’s what you leave behind that really matters.”

 

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August 2018

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Morning exhale flow on the water! Yoga on the Boardwalk returns every Sunday morning, beginning in May, on the Harbor Point Boardwalk.  Led by our Yoga Teacher, Shannon Aleksa. Her...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harbor Point Boardwalk
1 Harbor Point Road
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

First stop—Pedego, where you and your friends explore the waterfront roadways, picturesque winding routes north of the shoreline, and everything in between on a Pedego Electric Bike....

Cost: $50

Where:
Meet-up at Pedego
50 Water St
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

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Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Caring for a loved one who is ill is stressful and exhausting. It can be a profoundly isolating and lonely experience. Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County and Wilton Library invite you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-762-8958, ext. 316.
Contact Name: Laurie Petrasanta
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Sing choral classics on Tuesdays in August! Each week, a different work led by a different conductor. No performance, no worries: just show up and sing. Summer Sings are a relaxed way to...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Presbyterian Church
48 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Back by popular demand! Professional book discussion leader Susan Boyar will discuss 6 short stories published in The New Yorker magazine over 6 consecutive weeks. Each Wednesday's...

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enrollment is now open for the next Stamford EMS Safe Sitter class. Children in grades 6-8 will learn the skills needed to care for themselves and young children so they may become safe and...

Cost: $75

Where:
Stamford EMS
684 Long Ridge Rd
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: Stamford EMS
Telephone: (203) 252-2193
Contact Name: Laura Roberts
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Trace the life cycle of food at Grace Farms with Community Garden Manager Ashley Kenney, Pastry Chef Leah Jones, and Director of Operations Adam Thatcher. From produce and cut flowers used in the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Stamford EMS and Safety4Kids (S4K) are teaming up to present an important summer safety event: a Bike Safety Roundup on Saturday, August 18th at Chelsea Piers from 9am – 10am.  ...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Chelsea Piers Connecticut
1 Blachley Road
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: Stamford EMS and Safety4Kids (S4K)
Telephone: 203-968-1118
Contact Name: The Loft at Chelsea Piers Connecticut
Website »

More information

InSitu is an eight-acre sculpture garden where nature and art dramatically interact. Nestled in the rural countryside near Redding, the property is surrounded by the 312-acre Saugatuck Waterfall...

Cost: $7 per private garden; children 12 & under free.

Where:
Redding, CT


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days program staff
Website »

More information

Explore the InSitu garden in Redding, open for self-guided tours to benefit the Garden Conservancy. This eight-acre sculpture garden is a showcase of architecture, horticulture, and art, seamlessly...

Cost: $7 per person, children 12 and under free

Where:
InSitu
73 Diamond Hill Road
Redding, CT
View map »


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days Program staff
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

The Lewisboro Library’s Nightclub Concert Series has a special treat on Saturday, August 18 – a “Beatles Night” featuring a Beatles tribute band and a Beatles Trivia...

Cost: $30/per person

Where:
Lewisboro Library
15 Main Street
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Lewisboro Library
Telephone: 914-875-9004
Contact Name: Liz Gabriele
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Hiking and practicing yoga outside in the fresh air leaves you feeling uplifted, centered, and peaceful! In warm weather months, we meet regularly in various parks and trails. Each event starts...

Cost: Three and Five Class Packages (3 times for $33, 5 times for $42)

Where:
Vary with each class
, CT


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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