Wells of Life unites generations of Duhawks

DUBUQUE — One thing we can all agree on about Loras  is that as a result of the lessons learned here, a majority of its graduates go on in life to achieve great things and give back to their communities.

This is evident in the many people who not only give back to the college monetarily, but also the many people that come back and express their gratitude to the many people they interacted with on campus, as well as the school itself. One such Duhawk is Peter Callahan who graduated from Loras College in 1966.

To honor his achievements and contribution to society, Mr. Callahan was, during Homecoming weekend, honored by the college with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievements and Contributions made to Loras College. Though an excellent reason to spend time in Dubuque for Homecoming, Mr. Callahan, alongside another Loras College graduate, David Linzmeier (’10), spent time talking to many groups on campus about a project they are both involved in ­— Wells of Life.

Wells of Life is a non-profit organization based in California that is dedicated to bringing safe, clean water to people in need in Uganda — usually schools and rural villages. Since it’s upstart in 2008, the organization has since built over one hundred wells through the help of generous sponsors such as Mr. Callahan, who is not only a donor, but is also on the Advisory Board of the organization.

“I met Nick Jordan (the founder) at a social event and he asked me to donate $6,000 to his organization so he could build a well in Uganda. What impressed me was he said all the money would go towards building the well,” said Mr. Callahan.

Peter Callahan continued to explain that he did not believe that all his money would go towards building a well since he had been ripped off by many charities in the past. However, Nick Jordan invited him to visit Uganda and witness the fruits of the well building project.

“It changed my life tremendously and I was so impressed that I agreed to join the advisory board,” said Mr. Callahan.

There is a general problem regarding shortage of water worldwide. However, the problem in Uganda is not lack of water — rather, it is lack of sanitary water.

“People drink filthy water because it’s the only water available and they don’t have a choice because you need water to survive, and they travel 2-4 miles to fetch water,”  said Mr. Callahan.

The main source of water in Uganda is rain water, but the water is soon contaminated by animals’ defecation and pollutants found in the ground. As a result, the infant mortality rate is very high, children miss the opportunity to get an education, and people in general get diseases from drinking contaminated water. As per the Wells of Life’s operation, the solution is to drill wells to reach underground running water which is clean and safe to drink.

While on campus, Callahan and Linzmeier talked to some classes as well as student organizations about this project. While talking to these groups, the duo explained that the wells they drill are simple wells that use human effort to pump the water. This way, there are no additional costs to the villagers such as buying diesel if they were to build a mechanical well. In addition, to ensure that the wells actually do improve people’s lives and last a long time, Wells of Life has three rules for those they build wells for: share the water with whoever comes to the village in order to avoid conflict; protect the wells from destruction and contamination by animals; and enroll children in schools.

“These wells change people’s lives in ways I never imagined. Since people don’t have to walk miles to fetch water, mothers have more time to mother their children and start small businesses and children have a chance of receiving good education by going to school. Ever since we started building wells in 2008, infant mortality rate has dropped by 50 percent,” said Callahan.

“(He wishes he had) a billion dollars to make the world a better place one and for all. But I don’t have that kind of money. So, being part of Wells of Life has taught me that you can do your small part to change the world, and has inspired me to look into ways I can help make the world better,” said Linzmeier.

What can people do to help? If your bank account allows, you can donate $6,000 to Wells of Life and give a well to a village in Uganda. Alternatively, people can go to www.wellsoflife.org and join the $6 a month campaign that encourages people to donate as little as $6 (1,000 people can contribute towards building a well).

In addition, the two alumni ask that people keep them in their prayers. Above all, Callahan encourages people to find ways they can give back to society and commit themselves to whatever they feel called to do. The website also offers assistance to those interested in starting their own non-profit organizations.

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