By Marlys Kruger
When Julie Stunkel and her husband Lloyd along with 22 others from local churches traveled to Olanchito, Honduras last February, it definitely wasn’t for a vacation. Julie and the group went as a part of Living Water International to dig a well to bring fresh water to the people living there.
Julie belongs to Cedarbrook Church of Menomonie and with members from Peace Lutheran and Harvestime of Eau Claire and New Scandinavia of Dallas saw first hand how desperate the residents were for clean water.
“We would see six-year-old kids walking three miles to carry water to their families,” she said. “And it was not a safe walk, especially for young girls. We went over not only to drill a well, but to teach about personal hygiene and Bible school to the residents. They are so happy to have us come. They are not looking for a handout. They all helped us in some way, either by cooking meals for us or doing some of the labor. They knew we were there to help them get fresh water for drinking, cooking and bathing.”
Things didn’t go as planned however, as they discovered the rock was too hard for their drilling equipment to penetrate. They promised the residents they would raise enough money to come back with better equipment to drill the well.
“It was heartbreaking to leave them without the new well,” Julie said. “We need to raise $100,000 for the project so we have done bake sales, garage sales and we have gotten donations. So far we have about $13,000 and we hope the fundraiser we have on the 25th will bring in around $5,000.”
She is referring to a picnic that will take place August 25 at the Lion’s Park in Elk Mound.
“Since I live in Elk Mound we thought it would be convenient to have the fundraiser here because it’s close for members of all the churches involved,” she said. “We will have games for kids, a picnic lunch, bake sale and silent auction. And clear out of the blue, I received a phone call from a guy who is a member of a car club from the other side of the Twin Cities that shows expensive, high-end cars. They are bringing 10 of them over to show off and the total price of them combined is over a million dollars. They are calling it ‘Cool Cars for Cool Water’ ”, she said with a laugh. “When we raise enough money, for the new equipment it will go to to Olanchito to drill their two wells.”
When asked how she decided to make the trip the first time, Julie replied:
“I knew others from our church had gone before. When I was there, I felt like this was my purpose in life. My family is number one but this just felt right to be helping others with something we take for granted every day. My husband is going to Haiti in February to do pump repairs on other wells so it is important to him to help others, too. We know not everyone can take time to do mission projects like this but they can still help out by attending the fundraiser or donating to the Living Water Organization.”
For more information or to donate you may call Julie at 715-491-8490.