History & Legacy

Dr. George Wolf

Born in Prague in 1934, George fled to the United States with his parents at the age of five, several months after the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. As a Jewish refugee growing up in the rugged streets of Newark, New Jersey, George struggled through a challenging childhood, feeling as if he did not belong and turning to narcotic drugs to relieve angst and depression.

Blessed with an outstanding intellect and an unsurpassed ability to focus, however, George rose from his hard circumstances, enrolled in night school at Rutgers University, went on to earn his Ph.D. from Yale, and ultimately served on the faculties of Mount Sinai Medical School, the State University of New York at Purchase, and New York University as a distinguished professor of neuropsychology.

As a father who stood squarely in his children’s corner, George imbued in his son, Dan, the core values that he has carried with him his entire life – authenticity, integrity, generosity, commitment and compassion – values that are at the heart of the two charitable organizations that Dan would later found in his father’s name and honor in 2003: the George Wolf Memorial Trust and the George Wolf Operating Foundation, which one year later became the International Lifeline Fund.

Throughout his too short time on this earth – he died of lymphoblastic lymphoma in October 1983 at the tender age of 49 – George emphasized the importance of “making a contribution” in life. He spoke proudly of the extent of his own contributions to science and philosophy given “where he had come from” and, through his example, passed on to his son an irresistible compulsion to make contributions of his own.

The International Lifeline Fund is George’s legacy. The contributions that George made during his life did not stop with his death. They live on through his son and are embodied in Lifeline’s values and in everything it has done and will do to make this world a better and more just place for everyone.

 

Capt. Benjamin Sklaver & Clearwater Initiative

On January 1, 2016, ClearWater Initiative (CWI) formally merged with the International Lifeline Fund. As a result, these two separate organizations became a single legal entity under the Lifeline name. Prior to the merger, CWI operated in Northern Uganda for nearly a decade, providing thousands of remote villagers with access to clean safe drinking water.


Captain Benjamin Sklaver

ClearWater was founded in 2007 by the late Benjamin Sklaver, a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a U.S. Army captain assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s civil affairs unit. Serving a two-year tour in Uganda that began in 2006, Ben sorrowfully watched as young children drank filthy water from stagnant pools and learned of the horrifying health consequences: over 20,000 of those children were dying each year from preventable water-borne diseases.

Determined to do something to prevent this needless tragedy, Ben returned to his home in New Haven, spread word of what he had seen, mobilized friends and family, raised funds and established CWI to provide clean water infrastructure to remote villagers in Northern Uganda’s war-torn Gulu district. As a result of his efforts, thousands of individuals across the region gained sustainable access to fresh drinking water and Ben soon earned the affectionate moniker of “Moses Ben.”

Following the conclusion of his tour in Uganda, Ben was hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct disaster planning for the New York tri-state area. Two years later, in 2009, he was redeployed to Afghanistan, where he was killed by a suicide bomber while on patrol near the Afghan border. Ben was survived by his fiancé, Beth Segaloff, with whom he was to be wed that summer, and his parents, Gary and Laura Sklaver. But while Ben is no longer with us, through the merger between Lifeline and CWI, his legacy of ensuring access to clean water to Uganda’s rural poor lives on to this day.

As a direct result of the merger between Lifeline and ClearWater, our two organizations have been able to achieve far more together than we could have possibly achieved separately and, hence, are doing more to honor Ben’s profound legacy than ever before.

Mission

From the outset, CWI’s mission was to promote simple, sustainable solutions that would provide rural communities in Northern Uganda with access to clean drinking water. CWI’s efforts to achieve this mission were marked by technical excellence, responsible use of donor funds, close collaboration with local communities and compassion for the needs of individuals overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control.

Approach

CWI’s approach focused on maximizing sustainability through direct community involvement, coordination with local government, comprehensive training on proper hygienic practices, micro-finance initiatives and high-quality clean water infrastructure, including the construction and rehabilitation of boreholes and protected springs. CWI’s projects were implemented by Ugandan engineers and local talent who provided employment and skills training, thereby empowering communities to take ownership of their water resources.

Impact

As a result of CWI’s efforts, more than 13,000 Ugandan villagers gained access to clean water in the years preceding its merger with Lifeline.

2020

Lifeline Begins Mobile App Development with OMNITech

With support from the Stone Family Foundation, Lifeline forms a partnership with Ugandan software developer OMNITech, Ltd. to build a mobile payment application for the EverFlow Africa initiative.

2019

Lifeline Deputy Director Elected to ETHOS Board

Deputy Director Vahid Jahangiri joins the Board of Directors for Engineers in Technical & Humanitarian Opportunities of Service (ETHOS), which explores research and collaboration in the global cookstove sector.  

Lifeline & World Food Program Partner on Energy Strategy in Ethiopia

A new partnership with the World Food Program in Ethiopia to develop a country-wide energy strategy for refugee contexts launches, with Lifeline conducting assessments of energy needs in the Somali, Afar and Gambella regions.

Research Partnership with Stanford University Kicks Off

With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Lifeline begins a two-year research partnership with Stanford University to evaluate the demand for and costs of Lifeline’s EverFlow Africa handpump maintenance service among communities in northern Uganda.

Lifeline Joins Uganda Solar Energy Association

Lifeline becomes a member organization of the USEA to support the growth and development of the market for solar home goods in Uganda.

2018

Lifeline Stoves, Ltd. Social Enterprise is Formally Registered

Lifeline’s manufacturing enterprise for fuel-efficient cookstoves is formally registered in Lira, Uganda as an independent, for-profit entity.

University of Notre Dame Publishes Clean Cookstoves for Health Study

With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and in partnership with Thrive Networks, Lifeline partners with the University of Notre Dame on a three-year project exploring the health impacts of improved cookstoves.

Research Partnership with Oregon State University Commences

Lifeline forms a partnership with Oregon State University to conduct laboratory and field research to develop tools and technologies that address clean energy needs.

EverFlow Initiative for Preventative Maintenance Launched

With support from Thrive Networks, Lifeline launches a pilot initiative among 12 communities to deliver community-funded preventative maintenance for rural water points. Initiative later branded EverFlow Africa

Safe Access to Fuel & Energy Project Starts in Uganda

Lifeline and World Food Program team up to support household and institutional energy access and the foundations for efficient energy markets in several refugee settlements rural districts across Uganda.

2017

Lifeline Develops High-Durability Combustion Bowl for Haiti

In partnership with Chinese manufacturer SSM, Lifeline conducts research and development on the combustion bowl for its Haitian charcoal stove model, the Recho Plop Plop. With support from the Christadelphian Meal A Day Fund, Lifeline introduces a test line of 3,000 stoves with high durability bowls in Port-au-Prince, offering a 4X increase in the product’s lifespan. 

2016

Merger with ClearWater Initiative

Lifeline merges its WASH program in Uganda with the ClearWater Initiative, a Gulu-based NGO founded by U.S. Army Capt. Benjamin Sklaver.

First Professional-Grade Kiln Constructed in Northern Uganda

This kiln enables Lifeline’s stove program to internally manufacture its own ceramic liners for charcoal stoves, cutting production costs and improving operational efficiency to approximately 5,000 stoves per month.

2015

Lifeline Begins Burundi Stove Consultancy with World Food Program

Lifeline begins a three-year consultancy with the World Food Program in Burundi to help produce and distribute an efficient cookstove for rural households in Rushanga and Gitega. The project results in 100,000 household stoves and 1,500 institutional stoves in schools.

ENEA Publishes Multi-year Assessment on Impacts of Uganda Stove Program

A third-party evaluation of Lifeline’s Uganda commercial stove program documents improvements in stove users’ perceived safety levels, reductions in health problems and local economic benefits. https://journals.openedition.org/factsreports/3980

2014

Lifelines Forms Joint Venture with D&E Green Enterprises in Haiti

Lifeline integrates its Port-au-Prince operations with Haiti’s D&E Green Enterprises to achieve financial sustainability and long-term social impact. The joint venture makes Lifeline and D&E the largest fuel-efficient stove producers and distributors in Haiti. 

Lifeline Finalizes Model for EcoSmart Wood Stove

Through an extensive collaboration with rural Ugandan communities, Lifeline finishes the final prototype for its efficient wood stove model and creates molds for mass production.

2013

Extensive R&D Conducted on Charcoal Stove Models:

Lifeline conducts a series of Controlled Cooking Tests (CCTs) to re-engineer and optimize production of the ceramic combustion chamber for its Okelo Kuc stove.

2012

Lifeline Leads H20+ Initiative in Uganda:

In partnership with Blue Planet Network and Africa AHEAD, and supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Lifeline leads the H20+ Initiative in Uganda to improve the economy and access to vital resources in rural communities. New partners join the initiative over four years.

Introduction of Efficient Wood Stove Model (first iteration):

In partnership with the UN World Food Program, Lifeline introduces an efficient wood-burning stove model in 4,700+ rural Ugandan households. A similar partnership follows with German Agro Action, providing stoves for 3,000 rural Ugandan households.

Haiti Stove Enterprise Expands:

Lifeline doubles the size of its Port-au-Prince vendor network in one year.

Carbon Finance Registration:

Under the Improved Cookstoves for East Africa (ICSEA) program of the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Lifeline partners with Uganda Carbon Bureau to begin accruing carbon credits for its stove program.

2011

Lifeline Recognized for Global Leadership

Lifeline is the recipient of the prestigious PCIA Global Leadership Award

Lifeline Begins Commercializing Haiti Stove Program:

Lifeline secures 25 vendors in and around the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

Lifeline Establishes Kampala Stove Production Center

To meet demand for efficient cookstoves in Uganda’s capital city, Lifeline opens a manufacturing center in Kampala and introduces its new EcoSmart line of stoves.

2010

Humanitarian Stove Program in Haiti Launches

Lifeline begins distributing fuel-efficient stoves to displaced persons and institutions in Port-au-Prince following a devasting earthquake.

2009

Commercial Stove Program Begins in Uganda

Lifeline launches commercial stove program in Lira District, stimulating self-sustaining markets and building local capacity.

Institutional Stove Program Established

Institutional stove program in Uganda is established – Lifeline has since produced approximately 250 stoves for public schools, hospitals and other institutions.

2008

Kenyan Stove Program Created

Lifelines employs a staff of 35 refugees who produce and distribute 25,000+ clay and metal-clad stoves to refugees living in the Dadaab camps on the Somali border in Kenya.

2007

Training Stove Program Gets Underway in Tanzania

Lifeline trains local agencies on fuel-efficient stove production and training for Burundese and Congolese refugees in Tanzania.

2006

Lifeline Becomes Operational

Lifeline establishes permanent office in Lira, Uganda.

Rural Stove Program Begins in Uganda

Lifeline begins distributing fuel-saving stoves in IDP camps in Northern Uganda, reaching some 20,000 households.

Clean Safe Water Program Starts

Lifeline completes 270 boreholes in past five years, providing clean water to 200,000 individuals.

Lifeline Launches Rural Stove Program in Darfur

Lifeline launches its first humanitarian stove project to help slow deforestation, help local women and reduce exposure to gender-based violence.

2003

Lifeline Establishes Mission

Lifeline aims to “promote self-sustaining interventions that would have an outsized impact in relieving the suffering of refugees and other vulnerable persons in the poorest regions of the world.”

Lifeline Founded

Based in Washington, DC, Lifeline is founded as a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing cost-effective technologies and self-sustaining interventions to enable vulnerable individuals to lift themselves out of poverty.