Photos by Matt Benton
The Wells Project kicked off its 10 Days Campaign on Tuesday night in the HAWC with its “Why Water?” Convocation. The event focused on why God cares about water and why that should encourage students to give up every beverage but water for 10 days to donate the money that they saved to help give clean drinking water to areas that do not have it.
The Wells Project is the collegiate branch of Living Water International, a non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas that aims to help underdeveloped communities acquire desperately-needed clean water. The money raised during the 10 Days Campaign will go toward building a clean water well in Ruhango, Rwanda in Africa.
“Our choices matter, our choices can make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others,” Jon Kwok, senior and Wells Project member, said.
At “Why Water?” Wells Project members shared statistics about access to clean water around the world. Today, one in nine people worldwide lack access to clean water, and that number dwindles to one in two in rural Africa. Additionally, just the act of hand washing with soap can save lives, cutting diarrhea by almost one-half and acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter, but this begins with access to clean water.
Senior and Wells Project member, Lynn Gilmore, shared
what the current water situation looks like for those living in Ruhango.
“Rwanda is home to more than 300,000 people and many women within the district spend an average of 20 hours a week collecting water, and walk about seven miles a day,” Gilmore said.
The Wells Project members spoke on the how a lack of access to clean water impacts safety, health and education.
“A lot of children often miss school due to unclean water because of things ringworm, hookworm, anemia and diarrhea,” junior and Wells Project member Sarah Gow said. “Teachers are also at risk, and when that happens, none of the kids get to go to school
Senior and Wells Project member Mary Swanson also noted that each year, more than 840,000 people across the world die from diarrhea, a common problem in areas with unsafe drinking water.
Senior and president of The Wells Project Allie Baumgarten mentioned that The Wells Project is also working on a concert happening this Thursday, a Coffeehouse in partnership with The Board in a couple weeks and the 10 Days itself happening soon.
The 10 days of drinking nothing but water will commence on November 7 and end Nov. 16.
“If unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene were all addressed, the lives of 360,000 children under the age of five would be saved each year,” Mary Swanson, senior and Wells Project member, said. “It’s not necessarily a happy thing to think about, but that’s the reality.”
Wells Project members also talked about how the 10 Days Campaign is grounded in the gospel.
“So really what 10 days, what The Wells Project, what Living Water International is all about is the gospel and the advancement of its cause in the way God has invested himself in our lives,” Parker King, sophomore and Wells Project member said. “What Jesus calls us to do is to transform nations and the way that we in partnership with The Wells Project get to do that is by providing sustainable and clean water to these villages.”
This far into the campaign, Wells Project has twice as many participants signed up this year compared to last year.
“I’m excited for the effect it will have even though I won’t see it,” senior Callaghan McDonough said. “I’m excited that in a small way I’m able to contribute to something so powerful in somebody’s daily life.”
Many students are eager to take on the challenge.
“I really love having coffee everyday,” senior Jenna Marceau said. “The first few days will be the hardest but I’m happy to do it.”
The Wells Project will continue its campaign with a concert this Thursday in the amphitheater at 8 p.m., featuring artists Lizzy LeBlue, Riverheart and Jared and The Mill.
Follow Sebastian Lopez Barba on Twitter: @SebLopezBarba