WOMAN ON A MISSION: Many graduating college students spend the summer relaxing after four years of academic work, or looking for jobs. Kimberly Muellers of Westwood spent part of hers on a mission to provide clean water to a Bangladesh village.
Muellers, 22, who graduated this year from Wesleyan University, is one of the founders of Brighter Dawns, created by college students in 2010 with the goal of eliminating health disparities in the slums of Bangladesh, starting with a volunteer project to extend access to clean water and sanitation. Last year, the group raised more than $20,000 to build wells and latrines in Khalishpur and distributed cleaning supplies to families to help improve hygiene.
“There are so many preventable diseases that can be solved so easily just by having clean water and good hygiene,” said Muellers, the communications director for Brighter Dawns, which has chapters at Wesleyan, Harvard University, and Trinity College. “Our main focus is on sanitation issues.”
In addition to building wells and sanitary latrines, the group conducts seminars teaching people about the importance of sanitation and how it saves lives.
She said the water crisis in Bangladesh may seem ironic, as the country is crisscrossed by rivers and streams and gets a lot of rain. But hardly any water is safe to drink, she said. About half of the country’s 150 million residents live below the poverty line, and most are in urban slums with no access to running water or clean sanitary facilities. Getting water means walking many miles to where it is clean — or stay close to home and get it from polluted streams.
Waterborne illness accounts for 24 percent of all childhood deaths in Bangladesh, she said.
This summer, she and Tasmiha Kahn, a classmate at Wesleyan and Brighter Dawns’ CEO, went to Bangladesh to assess the results of a pilot project in Khalishpur. There they met with Fahim Zaman, a Harvard graduate and director of media and strategy for Brighter Dawns. They worked with a local partner, the World Peace and Cultural Foundation, interviewing residents about their quality of life and the status of their wells and latrines.
Muellers said they emphasized the importance of youth involvement in international development through groups like theirs.
“Young people have so much energy and often lack a good outlet for it,” she said. “We give university students a chance to connect with people thousands of miles away and have a real, positive impact on their health and daily lives. It really empowers them.”
She and the others in the group are volunteers in the effort, she said, and more are always needed. For information, visit www.brighterdawns.org.
“That’s an area of the world I had never thought about in my daily life,” Muellers said, adding that after getting involved, “I realize we can actually make a difference.”
YOUTH SCHOLAR: Lior Hirschfeld of Brockton, an eighth-grade student at the Sage School in Foxborough, was named one of 14 national 2012 Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, chosen from several hundred academically gifted applicants across the country. The mission of the Institute for Educational Advancement’s Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship is to identify middle schoolers who show advanced intellectual talent and have the ability to demonstrate academic and personal excellence. The scholarship is merit based and pays for four years of private or alternative high school education for recipients.
MONEY FOR FAMILIES: South Coast Improvement Co.’s first Tri-Town Four Families Cancer Benefit raised more than $5,000 to help four families in Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester who have been affected by cancer. Funds will go to support Will Huggins, Paul Fluegel, and two other families who want to remain anonymous, said Henry Quinlan, creator of the event and vice president of South Coast Improvement. The benefit was held at The Kittansett Club in Marion, which hosted it free, and the Old Rochester Bulldog High School football community helped support the cause. Music was provided by Rebecca Correia from Rochester and Jason Kelley from Dartmouth.
“While I know I can’t do much to alleviate the pain that cancer causes, I can do something,” said Quinlan, head football coach at Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett. “We plan on making it an annual event.”
For information and to donate, visit www.tri-townsfourfamilies.com.
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Paula Krebs (inset) was named the founding dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University. The Providence resident has worked for many years on issues of diversity in higher education and has been published in various publications including the Chronicle of Higher Education. A Victorian scholar and longtime English professor at Wheaton College in Norton, Krebs has published works on British imperial culture, including books on the Boer War and Rudyard Kipling. . . . W. Prescott “Scott” Golding Jr. of Hingham was hired by the law firm of Drohan Tocchio & Morgan PC in Hingham. He was a litigation associate with Melick, Porter & Shea in Boston, and was president of Fluid & Filtration Technology Inc., his family’s business in Walpole.
E-mail Paul E. Kandarian at Kandarian@globe.com.