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Angie Wieck, Published January 26 2013

Well fundraising push under way

FARGO – Even during an eight-year battle with cancer, Darold Rath was a man who continued to think about others.

In his final months, he assembled a team to plan a fundraising push for Wellspring for the World, an area nonprofit responsible for constructing 70 deep-water wells in developing nations since 2005.

Rath, a Wellspring board member from Fargo, wanted to see the organization reach a total of 100 wells. He passed away before the goal was met, but fellow organizers are carrying on his dream.

On Thursday, the nonprofit announced “Darold’s Dream: 100 Wells,” a 15-month campaign to raise the $156,000 necessary to fund 30 more wells.

The campaign has unofficially been under way since that initial meeting with Rath in September. Thanks to memorials in his name and other donations, the group has already secured funding for 14 of those 30 wells, said Wellspring board member Maureen Bartelt.

While Rath is the namesake of the campaign, Don Johnson, of Don’s Car Wash, and his wife, Dorothy, are considered the primary founders of Wellspring for the World. When Don Johnson learned of a proposed 2005 city of Fargo art project to be created around the theme of water, he considered his own relationship with water.

The Johnsons, whose business revolves around water, were inspired to help provide clean water to people across the world.

For help, the Johnsons turned to World Vision, a humanitarian agency they had previously worked with on other projects. They knew the Conrad Hilton Foundation, another well-known aide organization, had pledged matching funds for donations made to World Vision, and realized a partnership with World Vision could do twice the good.

Since then, a second anonymous donor has pledged matching funds, so now every dollar raised by Wellspring is matched twice. This means Wellspring organizers only need to raise $5,220 of the $15,770 overall cost of a well.

Wellspring raises most of its funds through local churches and private donations. All donations are turned over to World Vision, which puts the money to work.

Rynell Freelend, an area director with World Vision based in Minneapolis, said drilling a well is just one component of the work the organization does in a community.

World Vision’s goal is to help the community become self-sufficient, and that often begins with providing clean drinking water, and offering sanitation and hygiene education.

The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all illness in the developing world is due to unsafe water or poor sanitation.

In addition to health benefits, clean water helps a community’s economy, Freeland says. Without access to a well, many women and children spend up to eight hours a day in search of water, and what they find is often unclean. Because children spend most of their day on this quest, they are unable to attend school.

World Vision employs hydrologists to determine where water and springs are located. They try to find a water source near a school. The overall goal is to provide each person with 15 liters of water a day and to have that source available within a 30-minute roundtrip.

To learn more about Wellspring for the World, visit www.wellspringforthe world.com.

Clean water stats

• Every six seconds, a child in the world dies because of lack of clean water or due to hygiene-related diseases.

• Of 37 major diseases that attack children in the world’s poorest countries, 21 are related to unsafe water and sanitation.

• When a community gains access to clean water, its child mortality rate drops by half.

• On average, every new water well affects between 300-400 people.

• On average, a complete well costs $15,660. This includes drilling, maintenance, education and supervision to ensure a long, productive life of the well.

Source: World Vision


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501