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'Wine to Water' Sept. 20 at Bella Caffè

Until a well is built in his village, Benjamin Kisemei will be using a fiberglass tank to catch rainwater off his roof in hopes of avoiding diseases like the typhoid fever he and his daughter experienced recently from drinking river water. The goal of Wellspring is to have a well within 15 minutes of everyone in Africa. Submitted photo.

A free "Wine to Water" celebration will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 at Bella Caffè on Third Street in Park Rapids.

The Park Rapids chapter of Wellspring for the World has raised more than $873,565 since 2010 to bring clean water to people in Africa. This event is also a 'thank you' to everyone in the community who has donated to the project over the years.

Wine, non-alcoholic fruit drinks and appetizers will be served. Everyone is welcome. The food and wine are provided by the 11 Wellspring board members.

"This isn't a fundraiser, it's a celebration of what we have accomplished," board member Cathy Peterson said. "By providing clean water, Wellspring is helping so many families in Africa thrive."

Members of the group who went to Kenya in May to see how wells are helping change lives will be sharing stories, videos and photos along with information about the Wellspring program.

Area residents Damon and Carole Sierk met Benjamin Kisemei when he was their safari guide in Kenya in May. A friendship quickly formed, and they invited him to visit at their home on Big Sand Lake in July.

Kisemei was amazed by the pure clean lake water available here. In his village, during the dry season, the closest drinkable water is seven miles away. The Sierks are helping him with a fiberglass tank to store rainwater until a well can be built in his village.

"About a month ago, Benjamin had typhoid fever, and so did his daughter," Damon said. "It is the third or fourth time he has been sick with typhoid fever. I hope Wellspring will be able to put a well in his village soon."

Wellspring's mission is to provide safe drinking water for the people of the world. Their goal is to fund 1,000 wells through their campaign "Give Water, Give Life." A complete well package costs $15,000. The long-term goal is that by 2030 everyone in Africa will be within 15 minutes of clean water. Currently, some women walk 12 miles to a river full of bacteria and parasites because it is the only source of water for their family.

Wellspring for the World is a nonprofit organization that partners with World Vision. Donations may be sent to Wellspring at P.O. Box 936, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

More information about the program is available at www.wellspringfortheworld.org or by following them on Twitter or Facebook or by contacting board members Tony Platz (732-8029), Steve Steinborn (701-261-2241) or Mark Larsen (701-261-2241).

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