Sandi Patty was moved by the life-saving work of Water4, the charity based in her hometown of Oklahoma City. When she was presented with the opportunity to join the group on a trip to Africa, where they would use their simple, low-cost method to bring water to the surface and change the lives of the members of several communities in terms of health and sustainability, she jumped at the chance to be a part of their simple solution to the complex problem of the world water crisis.
When we exited the plane, the air was hot and thick. We were glad to have finally arrived after a 30-hour journey but a few more hours of travel lay ahead. My husband Don and six of our eight children came with me and the Water4 team to Sierra Leone, West Africa so we could experience personally the enormity of the global water crisis that so touches our hearts and has driven us to offer help in any we can. After what felt like endless hours in the air and innumerable plane changes, we found ourselves being driven through dark and lamp-less streets to a ferry. After disembarking we took one final drive before we arrived at our hotel. I was physically exhausted when I collapsed into bed in our hotel, but more than that, I was elated, buoyed by excitement and the importance of the tasks that lay ahead of us.
The next day we boarded NGO certified land cruisers and drove to Makeni with our African guide Abdul and an American missionary named John Campbell. The trip of two plus hours over bumpy red dirt roads took us to a polio camp. Our arrival was heralded by joyous singing and dancing from the hundreds of children and family members who lived there. Water4 had not long ago provided a solar water pump that delivers continuous access to clean water at the camp and their gratitude was unending.
On the third day we traveled to the extremely remote rural village of Roburku, a town of approximately 500 people who had no access to clean drinking water. There we did the “Water Walk” in which we accompanied the women of the village on their daily walk to get water. It took about 30 minutes round trip and they do this every single day, multiple times per day. The local drill team from the village shared their acquired skills and experience with our group, and gave insight into their reach into other communities in need of clean water. John showed us all of the tools, explained what each is used for and how to use them. Before we even knew it, drill team leader Papa had begun a digging a borehole in the ground and the drilling process was begun! We pitched in and got our hands (and feet, legs, arms and clothes!) dirty. We drilled down about 32 feet and then we hit water, which meant we were about 2 or 3 days from a completed well. It was an exciting thing to behold.
The following day we drove to yet another remote village to help complete and install a well that had already been started by the local drill team. We stood with the villagers when they saw the clear water flow from their new well for the very first time. From that moment on, their lives would be forever changed. It was life altering for all of us: for the villagers who now had access to clean water and also for those of us who were blessed to be a part of this amazing solution. The villagers, in a sign of appreciation for our work, prepared lunch for us: rice, meat and a spicy sauce along with “sucking oranges” that were sweet and delicious.
The next morning we traveled over two hours to Ronurie, a village of nearly 1,000 people outside of the capitol city of Freetown to go to church. To get there we drove over several palm tree log bridges, lining our tires right up to the sides of the bridge to ensure we didn’t roll off. Pineapple plants lined the sides of the roads on much of the drive. The village was a past recipient of a Water4 well and seeing the villagers drink the crystalline water was a delight. Our African partner, Abdul, who is from Ronurie, lead the church service in tandem with another pastor. They spoke in both Themne, the local tongue, and in English, ensuring that everyone understood the message. Greeting is a large part of the culture in Sierra Leone and after the service the locals were extremely welcoming to our group. Don and I gave the church a gift of a guitar we had brought from home and their grace and appreciativeness in accepting it touched us deeply.
As our trip but not our mission drew to a close, I had come to appreciate just how enormous the global water crisis is, how many it touches and how many it takes from us. I had known this prior to the trip but seeing it with my eyes brought the message home to my heart. Being a part of this extraordinary undertaking showed me that there is a simple solution. The problem is momentous but not insurmountable, and Water4 holds the key. Water4’s solution is simple. Their drill kits are easy to use, easy to teach, cost-effective, and can all be sourced and serviced. Water4 has the power to eradicate the global water crisis and I am proud to have become a part of the solution.
As one of the most highly acclaimed performers of our time with five Grammy® awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three platinum records, five gold records, and eleven million units sold, Sandi Patty is simply known as The Voice. She and her husband, Don, have eight children. They currently reside in Oklahoma City, OK. For more information about Sandi Patty, please visit www.sandipatty.com.