Hope springs eternal

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water_africa_map_BWDiocesan bottled water fund-raiser to aid Africa

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

The Diocese of Syracuse Catholic Relief Services Office is promoting the sale of clean water within the diocese as a symbol of its determination to help people overseas who are affected by disease, hunger and emergencies. It is a fund raising opportunity to provide assistance for the building of wells in Africa.

Parishes and organizations that are selling the water have determined which country in Africa they want to support. For example, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Liverpool is raising funds for Nigeria. St. Augustine in Baldwinsville and Holy Cross in DeWitt are earning money for a well in Ariang, Sudan, where the Lost Boys are working hard to build a school and a health clinic.

The students at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse have incorporated the water fund-raiser into a larger Lenten project for the “Hope for Ariang” drive which is directed by Le Moyne graduate student and Ariang native Gabriel Bol Deng.

“We thought this water project would be a nice piece of our larger drive to support Ariang,” said Maureen Lasda, director of campus ministry at CBA. “We have chosen Sudan to be the recipient of the proceeds from the water sales.”

The students sold the water at a ping pong tournament that was held during Catholic Schools Week in January. Lasda said the students also plan to sell the water at an upcoming  student rock band concert.

Parishioners at Holy Cross have been extremely successful in their efforts to raise money for the wells. Their contributions, along with a matching grant from Catholic Relief Services, provided over  $20,000 last year for the construction of a well in the village of Akpim in southern Nigeria. The well is almost completed and will provide water for 1,000 people.

This year, Holy Cross is selling the water again in order to provide the funding for the construction of the well in Ariang. “It’ll take $10,000 to $15,000 to build it,” said Sam Donnelly, chairman of the Holy Cross Peace and Justice Committee. “It looks like we’re off and running. There’s been an overwhelming enthusiasm from those participating. I think it’s a grand thing.”

In addition to selling the bottled water once a month after Masses, several other fund raising activities have been planned at Holy Cross. The parish’s human development committee has planned a bread and soup dinner during Lent. Then, late in April, Holy Cross School children will participate in a “Walk for Water” event. After receiving pledges, the children will walk one mile to St. Mary’s Cemetery, pick up a bottle of water, then carry it back to the school.

Last fall, the youth group at St. Augustine felt inclined to help with building a well in Ariang after hearing two Lost Boys explain how they planned to build a health clinic in their homeland. The Boys told the youth that the clinic wouldn’t be very useful without clean and abundant water.

“My group agreed that it was a good idea to sell the water and that it is an outstanding cause,” said Jim Garvey, coordinator of St. Augustine’s youth group.

Garvey said the youth have raised close to $600 so far.

Frankie Romeo, a member of the youth group and a junior at Baker Senior High School in Baldwinsville, felt especially moved to help out when she heard how the Sudanese were dying because they were dehydrated. “It’s been a neat experience to see how we can help these people,” said Frankie.

Youth group member Peter Cuppernull felt that selling the water was a good way to live out the mission of a group of which he is a member. Peter, a sophomore at Baker, belongs to STAND (Students Taking Action Now Darfur). “I felt this was a great opportunity to help people who are less fortunate,” said Peter.

Close to 20 members of St. Augustine’s youth group have been selling the bottled water after Mass on Sundays, at one of their spaghetti dinners, at their pancake breakfasts and at local coffee houses. “Some of our kids have taken cases of water to sell in school and to members of their sports teams,” added Garvey.

The youth plan to sell a great deal of water at a weekend series of concerts they are hosting in April. The concerts will feature singer, songwriter and storyteller Steve Angrisano.

“Our kids are excited to be able to make a difference in a place so far away and so different from where we are here in Baldwinsville,” said Garvey.
Parishes who are interested in selling water may call the Diocese of Syracuse Catholic Relief Services Office at (315) 470-1416 for details.

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