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November 06, 2023

Bringing Wells to Burkina Faso

Jacqueline Garcia of Bergenfield is committed to bringing wells to Burkina Faso so women and girls do not have to walk for hours each day to bring clean water back to their homes. Eight years ago, she started fundraising for the Georgie Badiel Foundation, which builds and restores wells in this West African nation. Garcia, who is now a junior at the Academy of the Holy Angels, recently stepped up her volunteer efforts by dressing models at this fall’s Georgie Badiel Foundation Water Ball in New York City.

Jackey and Dimas


“Working the fashion show was an experience of a lifetime,” said Garcia, who was in charge of fitting the models in their outfits and helping Dimas, the show’s noted producer, with social media posts. She also stayed for the post-show interview, and answered a few questions.


“They were all so nice to me even though I was a ‘rookie,’ as they called me,” she said.


Garcia described the frantic behind-the-scenes atmosphere at the show, including last-minute hair and makeup updates, on-the-spot clothing alterations, and the immense amount of work needed to make the show run smoothly.


“During the show everything looks so composed and taken care of, but that is the complete opposite of how things really are,” she explained. “There people refusing to wear clothes and clothes not fitting. Things are constantly changing, and I had to learn how to just problem solve and move on.”

Jackey and the models.


Garcia shared that Ms. Villone, her fourth grade teacher from Franklin Elementary School in Bergenfield, inspired her to get involved with the foundation. The two continue to collaborate.


“I raised money collecting water bottles with my fellow classmates and donated it to the foundation and my growth in the foundation’s community grew from there,” she said of her early volunteer involvement. “It feels rewarding to help build wells in Burkina Faso but also eye-opening at the same time.”


She explained that she began to appreciate the relative comfort of her own life after learning about people in different situations.


“The foundation has taught me a life lesson I will never let myself forget,” she added.


The search for clean water leads to gender inequity, since this responsibility is often considered the purview of women (source: Garcia acknowledged that, in some countries, women are fortunate if they learn to read and write. Ready access to potable water allows girls enough time to attend school.


Garcia sees an important parallel between the foundation and Holy Angels. She pointed out that the foundation trains women in well engineering so they can be involved with well operation and maintenance. She noted that this program connects to AHA’s mission to empower women through education.

Jackey meets Madelena Kalinova.


At AHA, Garcia is involved in the Black and Hispanic Cultural Society and Operation Smile. She has served as an assistant team leader for two Operation Smile conferences, including one in Miami and one in Peru. In the spring of 2023, she and a handful of peers from AHA traveled to southern Arizona to take a closer look at immigration issues. Garcia is also active with the Academy’s DECA and stage crew organizations.


Garcia envisions herself as an orthopedist or physical therapist, but plans to remain involved in the fashion world as an intern.