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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Since March of 2018, the Colfax Lutheran “Wells for Malawi” campaign has raised $8,680.
Colfax Lutheran member Marge Hernandez, who has served as the fund-raising chairperson, said the campaign officially ended this month.
The fund-raising campaign was originally scheduled to conclude April 1, but after the COVID-19 pandemic closed churches, the deadline was extended, Hernandez said.
In response to the pandemic, Colfax Lutheran has been holding online worship services.
Colfax Lutheran participated in the campaign to help provide safe, clean water wells to the people of Malawi as part of the capital fund drive of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Each well that is drilled in the Republic of Malawi, located in Southeastern Africa, costs about $10,000 and can serve up to 600 people.
Churches in the synod participating in the Wells for Malawi campaign periodically send money they have raised to the Northwest Synod, and when enough money has been collected to drill a well in Malawi, the funds are sent to the bishop in Malawi.
From March 4 to June 12 of 2018, Colfax Lutheran raised $2,000, which included $820 in memorials, $180 in donations given in honor of someone, $330 in other donations and $670 from groups, such as the Colfax Lutheran women’s group and from the Colfax Methodist women’s group.
From June 13, 2018, to March 13, 2020, $4,680 was raised, which included $1,045.28 in memorials, $225 in honor of someone, $850 in donations and $2,559.72 from groups, which included $1,500 raised during the Colfax Lutheran women’s group Junk for Jesus sales held during the summer,
For collections from March 15 to March 31 of this year, an anonymous donor had pledged to match up to $1,000 in donations.
The deadline for the $1,000 in matching funds was extended as well because of the pandemic, and during the extended deadline, $1,000 was raised through $275 in memorials, $325 in honor of someone and $400 in donations.
The Northwest Synod had a goal of $20,000 for 2020, but the congregations of the churches in the synod responded so well that $45,000 was received, which is enough to drill four new wells.
Throughout the campaign, Hernandez has mapped the donations with a chart on display in the church that contained one “water drop” for each $10 donated.
The chart now has 868 water drops that Hernandez made herself by cutting them out of colored paper while watching television at her home.
In addition to providing safe, clean drinking water, the wells drilled in Malawi provide other benefits, too, in time saved by not having to walk to a river or a creek to get water.
When children do not have to spend time walking to fetch water, that means they have more time to go to school, and when the adults do not have to spend time walking to fetch water, that means they have more time for other activities.
Many of the women in Malawi, for example, make items to sell, such as jewelry or scarves, to help support their families.
Hernandez says Wells for Malawi was a good project for her to take on because her father was a plumber, and while her family always had running water in the house while she was growing up, other friends, neighbors and relatives did not.