African Well Fund helping African villagers in need

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

The journey will begin and end at the Brookings High School and with every step, help people who live half the world away.

Participants in the Wells For Africa 5k Run and Walk-a-thon, which are both sponsored by the SDSU Pre-Professional Club, will be walking and running around Brookings to support well construction to provide clean water in Africa.

Through the 5k, walk-a-thon and other fundraising efforts, like going door-to-door in Brookings asking for donations, the club hopes to raise $10,000 for The African Well Fund.

According to a brochure for the Wells For Africa 5k, 100 percent of the proceeds of The African Well Fund go to a central organization, Africare, which constructs the wells with help from village volunteers.

Colin Zdenek, the president of the Pre-Professional Club, said these wells will be built in places that need it the most, such as small communities of 100 people, where there is a common need of water.

After the well is built, the quality of life for the African villagers can vastly improve. Crop production can be increased and the villagers and their livestock can become healthier. Right now, water-borne diseases are “crippling the health of the villagers,” but after a well is built, they will no longer have to fear these illnesses, said the brochure.

“We’re not going for a cure or a total change of life,” said Barbara Wehde, an active Pre-Professional Club member and sophomore Spanish and biology major. “With water, though, it will at least give them a start in a change of lifestyles.”

The availability of water – something we take for granted, Zdenek said – will also be improved with the help of a new well. Women in Africa commonly walk 10 miles one way just for a gallon of water, but with a new well, their journey will be much shorter, the brochure said. A slogan for the race is “come and run so they don’t have to walk.”

With all the good it is doing in Africa, Africare is endorsed by politicians in Africa and hugely backed, but not enough is known about it in the U.S., said Wehde.

Zdenek, who had the idea to start an African well fund at SDSU, said he did not know about the programs until he stumbled upon them while surfing the Internet.

A major goal of the run and walk-a-thon is to raise awareness of the African Well Fund and Africare programs and the situation in Africa, as well as money, both Wehde and Zdenek said.

If students want to help raise awareness, they can share the Wells for Africa message with their friends, donate money, participate in the 5k or walk-a-thon or just change their mentality to recognize that there is a need in Africa, Wehde said.

Zdenek encouraged everyone to get involved. “It’s a great way to get involved with the community and do a great cause,” he said.

Zdenek said the African Well Fund and Africare are great organizations to get involved with because unlike some other organizations, people know exactly where their money is going. Zdenek has been in direct contact with the man in charge of the well fund. He is actually in Africa, working amongst the villagers to provide them with clean and safe water.

“It’s a different feeling knowing exactly where the money is going, because it’s just one guy away from making these wells,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity, because with all those TV shows that say donate here, you never know exactly where the money is going.”

The race and walk-a-thon, which are open to the public, are both on April 5, with the 5k starting at 8 a.m. at the Brookings High School track and the walk-a-thon to follow. The events will not be canceled for bad weather.

Fees for the races are $20 for the 5k and $10 for the walk-a-thon. The entry fee for the walk-a-thon will be waived for participants of the 5k; donations will be accepted, and walk-a-thon participants can collect pledges, said Wehde. A D.J. will play music during the walk-a-thon, refreshments will be available for race participants and the first 120 people to sign up for either race will receive a free T-shirt.

To get more information about the event, students can stop at the Pre-Professional Club’s booth in the Union, which will be set up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day until April 5, go to the event’s Web site by following the link at http://studentorgs.sdstate.org/pre%2Dprofessional/ or e-mail [email protected]