Meet Your Neighbor: Amie LoPresti Helps Give Water to Sierra Leone
Most of us think little about water. We turn on the faucet, and it’s there. In stark contrast, women and girls in Western Africa spend hours fetching water, and the water they get isn’t always safe to drink. In the dry season, there may be little or no water to fetch.
World Water Day is March 22, and it’s time to start thinking more about water and its life-sustaining power. It’s an idea that consumes Geist resident Amie LoPresti.
In Sierra Leone, children under the age of 5 have a 40 percent chance of dying from complications resulting from contaminated water. The current life expectancy in Sierra Leone is just 42 years.
For LoPresti, those numbers are personal. She’s seen the faces behind the statistics.
After taking a mission trip with Heartland Church just over a year ago, her outlook on life has been transformed. The people and needs of Sierra Leone have become irrevocably attached to her being.
“It’s in me,” she says. “You think about it all the time. It’s one of those things you want to talk about.”
And talk, she has. LoPresti has been a driving force behind the grassroots effort here in Geist to raise funds to drill wells in Sierra Leone. The average well costs $3,500 and provides clean water for about 700 people.
“It’s water; it’s so simple, but to them, it’s like medicine to their bodies,” said LoPresti, who was back in Western Africa in November and was an eyewitness to the joy springing forth from a new well.
LoPresti heads up a group of dedicated volunteers bursting with creative ideas. Most of the volunteers engaged in the Water is Life campaign are also involved with Heartland Church, Fishers Rotary or World Hope International, but they welcome anyone who’s willing to help. Their passion is contagious.
“I really like that this is a grassroots effort; we’re sending money to this small community in Africa from our community here,” said Mikki Jeschke, a Heartland member and academic adviser at IUPUI. Two students there — Edy Bledsoe and Tori Fack — are spearheading efforts to raise awareness and funds on campus by selling Water is Life T-shirts and handmade bracelets from Sierra Leone.
LoPresti also sells the shirts and bracelets at local events. This winter, she organized a snow plowing campaign in her neighborhood, the Woods of Gray Eagle. Residents could tie a ribbon around their mailbox indicating their willingness to donate to Water is Life in exchange for their driveway being plowed by neighbor Joel Trusty (who plowed about 30 driveways).
Between the Fishers Rotary and the Woods of Gray Eagle — along with a generous anonymous donation — seven new wells have been purchased already. LoPresti’s appeal to her neighbors is simple: “Let our ‘village’ here give another village the gift of life.”
If you break down the cost of a well and spread it among the 700 people it serves, you’ll find it only takes $5 to provide one person in Sierra Leone with safe water.
“Five dollars a month could change a person’s life forever,” LoPresti says.
The goal is to build 100 wells by 2011. If every reader of the atGeist newsletter made a one-time donation of $5, it would be enough to build about 18 wells, according to David Cranor, a Hamilton Proper resident who works for World Hope International and is heavily involved in the Water is Life campaign.
Donations can be made to: WCSF (in Memo: Water Is Life/Fishers Rotary Project ), and mailed to: Fishers Rotary/Water Is Life, 12982 Shoreline Boulevard, McCordsville, IN 46055, or online at http://www.worldhope.org. Please indicate that the donation is for wells in Sierra Leone.
For more information on how to get involved locally, contact LoPresti at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-1322. We salute our neighbor Amie LoPresti for her passion to bring life-sustaining water to those in need around the globe.