One former student saw a need for clean drinking water in his community and decided to do something about it.
USD graduate Prosper Zongo started the nonprofit Prosper Zongo Foundation (PZF) in 2016 to bring clean drinking water to his home country, Burkina Faso.
Prosper Zongo said he grew up in a poor family and came to the United States through the Fulbright Scholarship. He received his bachelor’s in English and education from Augustana University in 2012. He earned his master’s in political science and international relations from USD in 2016.
Prosper Zongo said as a scholar coming to the United States, he saw himself as someone who could help others.
“Coming from a country where illiteracy is a big issue, about 70 percent of the population doesn’t know how to read or write,” Prosper Zongo said. “When I was at Augustana, I started saving my Fulbright stipend. I started thinking, ‘How can I use that money to benefit more than just me?’ So when I came to USD, I kept thinking about what I could do.”
In the summer of 2016, Prosper Zongo flew back to Burkina Faso using the money he saved from his scholarship. With the help of his family, he built his first well.
He said in addition to bringing clean drinking water, he has another goal for the foundation.
“Through the foundation, we’ve built two wells, so two large communities in Burkina Faso that never had clean drinking water now have access to clean water,” Prosper Zongo said. “One of the other goals of the foundation is to make sure every child goes to school. You don’t have to pay me for the well, I’m not asking anything back. The only way you could pay me back is to make sure you send all your kids to school.”
Aime Zongo, a USD senior international relations major and Prosper Zongo’s brother, is the director of PZF.
Aime Zongo said he decided to get involved in the project when his brother approached him about it.
“I thought it would be good to be part of something meaningful,” Aime Zongo said. “I was not surprised when he was initiating the project. He is always trying to achieve big things since we were younger.”
This summer, PZF will build three more wells.
Aime Zongo said he’s grateful to be part of this project.
“It is a wonderful feeling, just knowing that your actions are very appreciated by many people makes you want to do more for them,” Aime Zongo said. “Water is the basic need of people, unfortunately, many people still lack clean water in some places.”
Prosper Zongo said he has high hopes for the future of PZF.
“It gave me confidence that I can do something bigger,” Prosper Zongo said. “I trust myself more, I discovered that I can impact others positively. When I look at the future, this is something that can be expanded to all the villages in Burkina Faso and every other country facing the same problem. My professors at USD were very valuable in this process. Without their help, I wouldn’t have even started.”