Villagers in a remote area of Sierra Leone in Africa expressed their joy as they watched water spew from a recently installed pump.
Gospel recording artist Sandi Patty said she watched the villagers' exuberant faces and was filled with excitement during her recent African mission trip with the Oklahoma City-based Water4 organization.
“I'm telling you, it was so incredible to see the joy on the kids' faces,” Patty said during an interview.
“To see the women begin to connect the dots that they did not have to walk two miles to get this basin of water, that they literally could walk maybe 15 steps outside their hut to go to the pump and take clean water back — there was just so much joy in their community.”
Patty and her family traveled to Sierra Leone in February with one of the Water4 Foundation's mission team. Water4 is a faith-based nonprofit which provides clean drinking water to poor, at-risk communities around the globe through water well drilling and the manufacturing of inexpensive water pumps and manual drilling equipment.
Patty said she and her husband, Don Peslis, were drawn to the organization when they moved to the Oklahoma City area from Indiana in 2009. She said she has become more committed to global mission endeavors over the last 25 years and she and her spouse were impressed with Water4's work not only to help impoverished people but to help the people help themselves.
“The men in the communities are able to step up and really be the champions for their village and be able to supply this clean water and then become businessmen and help villages around them do the same,” she said. “To me, that's what's so exciting, that this is sustainable.”
Patty said it was on one of their initial meetings with Water4 leaders that the couple knew they wanted to go on one of the organization's mission trips. She said she and her husband had always wanted to take their children on such a venture and the recent trip provided them that opportunity.
“It was just incredible to share this with them.”
Patty said she got to see and experience firsthand the physically demanding labor involved with water well drilling at one village. She said her team began to find water about 40 feet deep.
“That was so exciting,” she said.
Patty said at another village, unofficially dubbed the “polio village,” the Water4 team built a water system destined to make the villagers' lives much easier and safer. The Grammy Award-winning singer said the village was populated with families of polio victims, all treated as outcasts by other villages.
She said the new water system made it possible for the villagers to have water for drinking, cooking, showering and other uses.