Paper for Water Turns Origami Ornaments into Wells

Katherine and Isabelle Adams were only 8 and 5 when they learned a child dies every 15 seconds from unclean water.

“We learned that women and girls often bear the brunt of hauling the water,” Katherine said. “What really got us inspired and involved at such a young age was the fact that girls our age in other countries weren’t able to attend school because they were hauling water all day.” 

In response, the sisters founded Paper for Water in 2011 and, in the years since, have provided clean water for thousands of families worldwide.

The girls started by making origami Christmas ornaments and exchanging them for donations to fund water wells.

The effort has grown to the point where Paper for Water has raised more than $2.5 million and funded 300-plus projects in 20 countries.

In 2020, ISN, a global leader in contractor and supplier information management, looked for safe remote ways to volunteer. 

Paper for Water held a virtual event where employees learned how to fold origami Christmas ornaments. 

LEFT TO RIGHT: ISN employees show off their paper origami ornaments.

“Our employees had such great feedback from the activity and were so impressed with Paper for Water (that) we knew this would be a long-term partnership,” said executive assistant Molly Flabiano of ISN. “Through our partnership with Paper for Water, clean water was given to communities in Sierra Leon and Peru.”

ISN’s volunteer work came as part of the Christmas Tree Project, launched by Paper for Water in 2017.

“We work with corporate organizations where they can make either a donation towards Paper for Water or host a volunteer day for employees where they can learn to fold origami,” Katherine said. “We take those origami pieces and decorate Christmas trees at their respective corporations and companies, or it can be a donation of the Christmas tree to another place.”  

This year ISN employees folded away and donated their Christmas tree to The Family Place, a nonprofit that serves as a haven for women and children victims of family violence. 

Such sponsorships help the Adams sisters provide clean drinking water “one piece of paper at a time.”

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