Max Perel-Slater ’11 has won an Advancing Leaders Fellowship from World Learning for the Tanzania-based project, The Maji Safi Movement (“maji safi” means “clean water” in Swahili). Maji Safi is focused on disease prevention and health promotion and particularly aimed at empowering rural communities in their efforts to combat water-borne and water-related diseases. The Movement encompasses both a local NGO and a US-based 501(c)3; Perel-Slater is president and co-founder of the US arm and treasurer of the Tanzania-based organization. He has worked on water projects in Shirati, Tanzania, since 2009, when he led the construction of a rainwater catchment system.
A College of the Environment (COE) major at Wesleyan, Perel-Slater studied abroad in Tanzania with World Learning’s School for International Training, dedicated to international development and exchange programs. He also completed a graduate-level field course in hydrogeology at Clemson University. While in Tanzania, he researched Shirati’s water challenges for his senior capstone project with the COE. In 2011, he worked in Nairobi’s Kibera slum with Shining Hope for Communities, a nonprofit organization founded by Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner Odede ’09; there, Perel-Slater coordinated a water sanitation project and co-led their summer program for students from US universities.
Additionally, this summer Perel-Slater was named an associate fellow of the College of the Environment, notes Barry Chernoff, COE director and the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies at Wesleyan. The fellowship acknowledges both the formative and continuing relationship between Perel-Slater’s work and the COE: Wesleyan undergraduates in the College now serve as interns with Maji Safi in Shirati, and Perel-Slater returns episodically to campus to meet with COE students and faculty.
“Max is an inspiration to our COE undergraduates and alumni alike,” says Chernoff. “He has put his education—and idealism—to practical use in the world in an incredible way. We are so proud of him.”