Four TCU students passed on a traditional spring break at the beach for a week of serving others in Africa. Seniors Chad Dresser, John Burns, Jon Parsons and graduate student Graham Radler spent seven days in Uganda drilling a water well for the town of Kablal, which was in need of clean water.
The well is drilled about 25 meters into the ground before water is reached, Dresser said.
Dresser, a political science major, and Burns, a finance major, said they were inspired by the movie “Running the Sahara.” The movie documents the journey of three men as they run across the Sahara Desert and hope to bring attention and support to the water crisis in Africa. After realizing the need for help, the students began to look for other TCU students who wanted to help the global water crisis.
The students funded the trip themselves and traveled a day and a half to reach their destination.
The students worked with The Radler Foundation, which began Water Harvest International. According to the foundation’s website, Water Harvest International was founded in 2008 with the goal of strengthening area churches by providing clean, reliable water. They have completed 23 wells, giving clean water to more than 6,000 people.
Burns said the impact of the one well the students helped drill will revolutionize the way the townspeople spend their time.
“They can focus on much more than just surviving and getting water every day just to survive,” Burns said. “Now they will have time to focus on their jobs, on their family and really improving their standard of living.”
Before the well was drilled, the people of Kablal were forced to walk miles to a river and carry back heavy cans of polluted water, he said. Even with these conditions, the people of Kablal were some of the happiest in the world, he said.
“It was just a really amazing experience to see how happy these kids were and yet they were carrying water for miles with two jerrycans each, and [the kids were] as young as five years old,” Burns said.
Dresser and Burns both encouraged all students to get involved with water initiatives all around the world because it affects billions of people in developing countries.
“It really brings a worldly perspective into your life,” Burns said. “We take so many things for granted here in America.”
Dresser said the people the students met caused this change in perspective, especially for one man in particular.
“There was nothing to be happy about of worldly things that we see in the U.S.,” Dresser said. “He was so happy, and the true joy on his face. He was ecstatic about life. [He] just made me appreciate everything that I have and everything I take for granted here.”
Dresser and Burns said they wanted to go back as soon as they can. They said they also wanted to continue to raise awareness for a problem that is often overlooked.