Living here in the United States, it is easy to take so much for granted. The overwhelming majority of people can walk down the street without having to be too concerned about being physically harmed. We have local supermarkets where we can purchase just about any food item that we can imagine or might want. When we are thirsty, we have the convenience of turning on a kitchen faucet for a drink of clean water. Without a doubt, we have been blessed.
Unfortunately, you and I know that this isn’t the case for millions of others around the world.
Just by turning on the television at any hour of the day or night, we can see news reports showing images of men, women, and children who are dying as a result of war, disease, drought, and famine. And yet while we are watching such programs, we still sit in the comfort of our own homes. Yes, we can see the images of suffering, but we remain physically untouched by it. That isn’t the case for Fr. Bernard Benoit. And that is why I am writing this letter to you.
Fr. Bernard Benoit is a Missionary of Africa priest -- living and working among the poor in the tiny nation of Mali, in West Africa. Fr. Bernard’s mission is located in the village of Bandiagara -- about 45 miles from the nearest large town of Mopti.
Like too many countries across the African continent, life in Mali can be a daily struggle. Not only are poverty and disease widespread, but recent governmental unrest has led to war between various groups fighting either for or against differing political factions. Now, as gunmen roam the countryside, few areas are safe. Random attacks and violence have escalated and atrocities such as rape, mass murder and other war crimes have been reported.
But civil war isn’t the only concern for the people of Mali. They also need water.
As I write this letter to you, less than half of the men, women, and children living in Mali have access to clean, safe drinking water.
“Water is life -- especially in this area,” Fr. Bernard writes in his recent letter to me. “We currently have more than 1,000 children here in our school as well as the missionaries who live on the compound. We also have visitors who stay with us as they travel through the region. All of them -- every man, woman and child -- depend on our water delivery system for their survival.
I cannot overstate the importance of water for us.”
“Right now, our water delivery system is over twenty years old,”he continues. “It is unreliable and urgently in need of replacing. Our hope is to build a new system . . . installing new pipes, fittings, valves and faucets as well as installing solar panels to run the pumps. We have a specialist who will do the installation work and community volunteers who will help with the labor and maintenance, but we need financial support to pay for all of the materials. Can you help us?”
My friend, Fr. Bernard and the people of Bandiagara urgently need our help. In addition to his request, I have received requests from more than a dozen other missions in desperate need of clean water. That is why I am writing this letter to you -- because the need is overwhelming! Please -- is there some way you can help?
My hope is that we can raise at least $45,000 to help missions like Fr. Bernard’s in Mali and other towns and villages throughout Africa get the clean water they need to survive. More than 1,000 children in Bandiagara are counting on our help. Countless others are hoping that we will help them as well. You have been so generous in your past support -- for this I cannot thank you enough. Please, will you help once again? For whatever you can do -- for whatever donation you can send -- $35, $50, $100, $250 or perhaps even more -- thank you so very much. God bless you for caring.