To the point week of 6/28/07


LAST WEEK I ACCOMPANIED a group of teens and chaperones to Panama City Beach, Florida, where we attended the Big Stuf Christian Camp. A total of 152 people from this area, mainly teenagers, attended the camp, and next week there will be information about the camp and it impact on our teenagers.

But today I want to address a situation that came to light at the camp – one that Switzerland County has already participated in and will continue to participate in.

Even each of you can lend a hand.

While at the camp we were exposed to a serious problem going on in the country of Kenya. It’s causing millions of people – including children – to die, and it’s continuing at an alarming rate.

No, it’s not AIDS – it’s water.

Or, more specifically – the lack of clean water.

Tainted and infected water in Kenya is the leading cause of death, for adults and children. It causes more deaths than AIDS.

Every six seconds someone dies from drinking bad water.

Can you imagine that? Every six seconds someone dies in Kenya because the water that they are drinking is filled with bacteria and other things that kills them.

Families walk as far as 10 miles a day in an effort to find a clean source of water. After carrying it home, the same bucket of water is used for cooking, bathing, washing clothes – and drinking.

Can you imagine being a parent and having a thirsty child and handing them a glass of water that will temporarily quench their thirst – but could kill them or make them seriously ill?

An effort is ongoing through the group that organizes the Big Stuf camp to help with this problem. They have identified communities in Kenya that, if a well can be drilled, could have a clean and healthy and sustainable source of water.

We were told that it costs $3,400 to drill such a well, and that donations were being accepted to help pay for the drilling.

Special bottles of water were sold during our week, with all of the proceeds going to help with the drilling costs.

During one of our group meetings, our group – called “Switzerland County Area Youth” – decided that we wanted to take both a short term and long term path toward helping with this problem.

We all went to bed that night thinking and praying about what we could do to help; and the next morning each of the room chaperones accepted cash donations from the kids to help with the well project.

Guess what? We raised – and then donated – $3,400 in one day.

We drilled a well.

We gave life to dying people.

Us. Our kids. Right here in this county.

Soon, there will be a well drilled near a community in Kenya that will provide clean water to a town of about 116,000 people.

They will have a chance at life, because our kids gave unselfishly. That well will be there because we paid for it. They are trying to make arrangements so that our name is on it.

People in Kenya will know that a place called “Switzerland County, Indiana” exists, and they will owe their lives to its generosity.

Isn’t that awesome?

But there’s still more to do. More wells need to be drilled. More people need to be helped.

And here’s how YOU do that.

Our kids came back with the mission of drilling more wells. A simple way that was suggested was to ask people – just like you – to help out. The next time you purchase a bottle of water, instead of throwing the empty bottle away, cut a slit in it and begin to put some spare change in it. When the bottle is filled, you can bring it to the Vevay Newspaper office; to The Chord Coffeehouse; or if you know a teen who attended Big Stuf, you can give it to them.

We’re going to take all of the donated money and we’re going to send it to the organizers, who will in turn make sure that it is applied to drilling more wells.

Every cent that is donated goes directly to drilling wells. No money is taken out for administrative expenses.

If you have a group or organization that would like to hear the kids tell about their work personally, call me and I’ll set it up. I know that you will be overwhelmed by the passion that our children have for this project – just as I was when I saw this mission blossom down in Florida.

We have teens in this community who are beginning to see the world more globally. They are seeing that just because they live in the most prosperous nation on earth, we shouldn’t simply stick our heads in the sand and ignore the plight of others.

In fact, many of our students have a goal of traveling to Kenya so that they can impact this problem first hand.

Can it happen? I won’t put anything out of these kids’ reach.

What’s important here is that we have more than 100 students here in Switzerland County and in some surrounding counties who have seen a problem, have worked to immediately help the problem, and are now working to continue to help solve the problem in the long run.

They believe that they can make a difference – and they believe that you can help, too.

So the next time you finish a bottle of water, don’t throw it away. Start filling it up with coins, and you, too, can be a part of this marvelous program.