When I heard Kathy Daniels tell the story of Women of the Wells, I heard the refrain from an old song “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” play over and over in the back of my mind.
Only in this case, the trek is the many miles many people walk every single day just to get water, which they then need to carry all the way home. Unfortunately, even after all those miles, in many places the water is not clean enough to drink.
As if this isn’t tragic enough, it is often children who have to make the long dusty trek, missing school in order to do so, and sometimes through dangerous territory.
Fortunately there are people doing something about the situation, and you can be one of them.
Kathy Daniels, founder, vice president, and secretary of Women of the Wells (www.womenofthewells.org) explained that in 2005 she watched a program about tragic suffering in a village due to contaminated water. A medical team treated everyone, but said that the people would be sick as long as they drank that water.
Kathy heard the staggering statistics that every eight seconds a child dies from a waterborne disease and that 50% of worldwide infant mortality is due to water-related diseases. She knew so many deaths were preventable.
“I knew right then and there that I wanted to be involved in building wells to help people get clean water.” Kathy said. She contacted The CBN Living Water project, part of Operation Blessing World Reach, and learned how to help.
“I decided to tell people at my church to see if anybody was interested,” Kathy explained.
She organized a committee from St. James Anglican Church and they raised enough money through a luncheon to build five wells.
“God really blessed it.” Kathy said.
That began Women of the Wells (WOW), whose stated mission is “to bring clean, uncontaminated water to impoverished people around the world.”
By doing so they are following the Bible verse that says, “Inasmuch as you are done this unto the least of my brethren, you have done this unto me.”
WOW has since built cisterns in China and wells in 11 countries in Africa, Asia and South America, bringing clean water to tens of thousands of people.
Villagers are obviously thrilled to have clean water. For example, Mr. Coffie, a leader in a small village in Ghana wrote: “God is great and He has shown His goodness to us. I am lost for words that people who are total strangers would be concerned about our welfare and do this work at no cost to the community. Only God can do this and we would be forever grateful to you. Thank you and God bless you.”
Kathy explained that Operation Blessing hires reliable indigenous well builders and oversees the projects. The high success of their wells is due to the fact that the wells are drilled all the way to the bottom of the water table; thereby assuring that the fresh water supply will be maintained despite weather fluctuations. The well is capped and a hand pump installed. Operation Blessing also brings in a medical team to assess the village’s medical needs and give lessons in hygiene.
It costs $1,800 to build a well and $450 to build a cistern. Cisterns are used in very mountainous regions such as China to collect the rainwater. The money raised through Women of the Wells goes directly towards the building of a well. WOW is governed by a responsible unpaid board of directors and there are no paid staffers.
Wendy Habicht, a Newport resident and WOW volunteer, explained that at the dedication of “ well, the village elder sometimes shows ‘The Jesus Film.”
“We want them to know in whose name we are bringing them clean water,” Wendy said.
The purpose of the film is to communicate the message and the hope of Christ. Since 1979 “The Jesus Film” has been translated into more than 1,000 languages and viewed by several billion people across the globe.
To date Women of the Wells has built 49 wells. WOW became a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, and is no longer under the church umbrella.
Fundraising has expanded, and the second annual Walk 4 Water fundraiser will be held Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Strand in Huntington Beach. The walk is 5K (3.1 miles), which is the average distance many people have to walk for water.
Wendy suggested that walkers bring a bucket to carry water to better understand what many people experience every day, but without the benefit or paved roads, and sometimes near wild animals.
Even non-walkers can help. For information, call 949-644-2182.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]