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Georgie Badiel is more than a supermodel, she is a superhero

After years of living what she calls the “glamorous life” in New York, Paris and Milan, supermodel Georgie Badiel, the former Miss Burkina Faso and Miss Africa, is focusing her efforts on water activism in her home country.

A landlocked country where 60 percent of citizens do not have access to clean water, this activism is desperately needed.

Badiel dubbed the “Water Princess” in a book by Susan Verde (and co-authored by Badiel), describes her own childhood in the village of Kofriko in Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, where she would walk for up to three hours with her grandmother in order to get water. She explains that this task fell to the women, along with all other responsibilities relating to the home.

Through her eponymous Georgie Badiel Foundation, launched in 2015, she is not only building wells but setting up schools to teach women how to repair the structures.

Why? She notes, Burkina Faso has over 5,000 broken wells which are a direct result of the government and charitable organizations’ inability (or lack of foresight) to educate these women.

By teaching women to take care of the wells, Badiel hopes not only to provide more than 100,000 citizens of Burkina Faso with clean water– a fundamental human right, she argues– but also to empower its women.

The ability to take care of these wells grants women autonomy and gives them power over their own lives. Implicitly, if they can take care of these structures, they can also take care of themselves.

So far, her foundation has built 13 wells (12 in Burkina Faso and 1 in Liberia), repaired 86 wells, and trained 50 women to maintain them.

Her foundation has also planted 1,050 trees in the Tanguin-Dassouri and taught more than 600 students about hygiene practices. Her charity has also secured major donors such as the Segal Family Foundation and Brussels Airlines.

In April, Badiel also discussed the “backbreaking, sweaty, difficult, dangerous” work of cocoa farming, drawing on her own experience growing up on a West African cocoa farm.

While she says that her family, while poor, “loved each other and depended on each other,” other children were not as fortunate. Some were forced to carry heavy loads or wield machetes. Others were exposed to chemicals. Additionally, this work also prevents them from receiving an education.

Furthermore, Badiel noted that beyond the chocolate industry’s alleged use of child and slave labor, this work also has a devastating effect on the environment and causes mass deforestation all across the region.

She asserts that if this deforestation continues, in 13 years, the rainforest will be completely gone. Ultimately, she urges people to stop supporting the “$101-billion-dollar industry,” perpetuating human rights abuses, and causing this environmental crisis.

For her work, Badiel was recently granted the “Chevalier of Merit,” one of Burkina Faso’s highest civilian honors, by the President Kabore, and by Eric Tiare, Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the UN.

Still, she’s not done yet. Badiel recently launched the bottled-water line “Georgie Water,” which promises that for every bottle sold, one will be made available to citizens in Burkina Faso. Her dream, she explains, is to “provide access to clean water to every person in my country Burkina Faso.”

Badiel also released a second book, Princess GieGie- Water is Here, this time with the sole-authorship credit. Finally, she’s telling her own story.