More than 2 million people die each year from water-related diseases.
Living Water International has set out to prevent as many of these deaths as possible by drilling wells in communities across the globe and local teens are stepping in to help.
“I love what Living Water’s all about,” said Glenn Westburg, pastor of student ministries at Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn. “I think it’s super practical, providing clean water for villages who don’t have it.”
Westburg recently traveled to Honduras with 14 students from the church’s high school youth group to install wells in two rural communities.
Adults from Parkview had participated in at least four other service trips with Living Water International during the last two years, but this was the first time students took a trip with the organization, Westburg said.
From June 28 until July 6, students spent several hours each day helping Living Water International staff install wells in the villages of Salamá and Quebrada de Agua.
Westburg, along with students Zach Zander and Sarah Lewandowski, were among the members of the team who worked in Salamá, where residents previously drank water from a nearby river used for bathing and washing clothes and polluted by cars and animals.
The group installed a well on the campus of a nearby high school and some of those students came out to help as well.
Interacting with local children was something Zander enjoyed. He often played soccer, basketball and tag with the residents.
Zander said the relationships he built with the children made the work he was doing on his first service trip more meaningful.
A Wheaton resident, Zander will be a freshman at Wheaton North High School in the fall.
Lewandowski is a recent Wheaton North graduate from West Chicago. This was her second mission trip, having attended last year’s trip to Toronto.
She served as part of a team with Living Water International that taught residents hygiene techniques and guidelines for using clean well water, such as removing water from the well and taking it at least 100 feet away before using it, in order to avoid contaminating the water supply.
Lewandowski decided to attend the trip because she thought it would be a cool experience, but she didn’t realize how much it would affect her to know that not everyone in the world has clean water.
“I didn’t know that it was going to change my life the way that it did. Now I think differently,” she said, adding that she no longer takes water for granted.
Parkview Community Church plans to continue to send members of its high school ministry, which totals about 80 teens, on trips with Living Water International. Details are already being arranged for trips that will take place during the next two summers.
“Anyone can do this; you don’t have to be trained,” Westburg said. “All you need is a willing heart.”