When I was in Africa a year and a half ago, one of the great needs that was very evident was the lack of safe drinking water the people had – or even the total lack of easily accessible water in some cases. One of the villages we visited didn’t have any water nearby, so the people had to literally walk eight hours a day, just to get enough water to live on. With our excessive running water, we can barely even begin to comprehend what that looks like.
Today I’m very happy to be interviewing a girl who grew up in a culture like that. Although I don’t know Marissa very well, I’ve known her family for over ten years now, so I was quite excited when she agreed to join me on Noveltea today. Marissa has done some fantastic stuff to help other people have fresh water, and I hope she inspires you to do the same.
1. Can you please start out by telling us a little bit about yourself, including why you’re interested in helping wells be drilled in Africa?
My name is Marissa Cherry, and I’m almost 17. I grew up in West Africa. My family and I were missionaries there for 11 years. We lived in a very remote village next to the Sahara Desert and did not have any running water. So we had to go to the well all the time and haul water to our house to wash the dishes, and drink, and take showers and such. Most of my African friends had to spend a large part of their day at the well.
I saw a lot of them get sick all the time, from drinking unhealthy water. I myself got quite sick at times, from bad water and food. So when we came back to America, I was looking for a project to work on, and found the Water Project. And so I did a fundraiser for them, because I know how hard it is to get water in Africa and I know the struggle. So I was really happy to help in some small way.
|When I was 4 in Ghana.|
2. About how many people are there in the world who don’t have clean water to drink? How does this effect their lives?
Today, there are nearly 1 billion people in the developing world do not have access to clean water. Many of them have to walk several miles, a couple times a day, just to get water. Mostly, it’s the young girls who have to do that, and it takes up a big part of their day and robs them the opportunity to go to school and get an education.
|Some of us going on a African safari in the back of a pickup. 🙂|
3. How will the people’s lives improve if they do have clean water?
Their lives will be improved drastically, partly because they will not have to spend so much time going to the river to get water, and therefore will be able to get an education. And also hugely because they will be much healthier if they can have access to drinking clean water. It will majorly cut back on the water-borne diseases that they so easily get when they drink the filthy water they drink every day.
|This is the main road the goes to our village. People drank from that water by the side of the road. 😦|
4. What have you been able to do to help people get clean water?
Well, the last year and a half, I did a fundraiser with The Water Project. They are a nonprofit organization that digs wells in Africa in villages that don’t have clean water. So I had fun working on it, though it seemed like an endless task, at times. I sold lots and lots of candy bars at the place I work, and did a t-shirt fund, and such. And then there were also SO many donations from friends, so the fund slowly climbed. And just a couple weeks ago, I was finally able to reach my goal of earning $12,000. Which was very exciting.
|Some of us missionary kids in the Niger River (that people drank from and also used it to wash their clothing and everything) next to our house.|
5. What is something practical that we could all do to help?
Well, most importantly, pray. But if you want to do something else, feel free to donate to The Water Project’s website. They are a really awesome group of people to work with, and are amazing at helping people across Africa have access to clean water. And if you really want, you could even start your own fundraiser with them, on their website. I promise you, you won’t regret it!
|Our house/property in Benin.|
6. Do you have anything else you’d like to say?
Not really. 🙂 Except that you all should pray. There is plenty of work to be done. Don’t ever think you’re too young or can’t accomplish much. God honors our efforts to help and be a blessing. Keep pressing on in Jesus!
Thank you so much, Marissa, for joining us today! I appreciate you taking the time to help us learn about this huge need, and I hope Noveltea’s readers will go work at making a difference for the one billion people who don’t have clean water.