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Clean and living water

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A very personal story from Brandon Gossett, Director of Development

Leaning in close to speak quietly, I ask my translator, “What is this mound of dirt?”

The answer would turn my life upside down forever.

Mundri, South Sudan: Walking around the 10-foot tall elephant grass, we arrive at dozens of straw huts that make up the village of Mundri.

Up ahead, there’s a small gathering of women waiting to greet us. They’ve come to celebrate our arrival and present us with a beautiful, hand-woven basket.

Over to my left, I notice a curious mound of dirt. It's immediately clear that someone cared deeply enough to carefully place a row of rocks around the border.

I couldn’t help but wonder at its significance. Is this a place for tribal gatherings? Is it used for idol worship?

My ignorance would betray me as curiosity got the best of me. I lean into my translator, Jeffries, and ask,

“What is this mound of dirt? What does it represent?”

“I do not know,” Jeffries replied. “Let me ask.”

Slightly to our right, there's a thirty-something-year-old woman. She's wearing a Halloween-themed, Spooky U t-shirt.

As Jeffries brings her over, she manages a quivery smile. He asks her about this puzzling pile of dirt.

Her eyes glance away. Her smile fades as her arms wrap her body. Speaking to Jeffries, she says,

“It’s the grave of my one and a half-year-old son. He died from diarrhea.”

I see the unsettling surprise on his face as he turns to give me the news.

I stand frozen in stunned silence, my face flushed and burning with shame. I wish I could take it back. I wish I could un-ask the question that makes me seem insensitive and ignorant.

And I am instantly transported to my own intensely private, rarely shared, painful story.

St. Vincent’s Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama: What should have been a joyful day for my wife and I turned into a terrifying ordeal. I watched the unsettling surprise on the nurse's face as she looked up to give us the news. Stillborn.

My wife carried our son for nine months with no issues or concerns whatsoever. By every sign, he’d be born as normal and healthy as any child.

But during the birthing process, he inhaled vernix — the waxy substance that coats the skin of newborns. His first breath became his last, and he was gone before they could pull him out.

As long as I live, I’ll never forget the heartbreaking moment my son emerged breathless. There are no words to describe the paralyzing fear and sadness I felt for my wife.

There’s no love like a mother’s love, as they say, and in that moment the truth solidified in me.

How could I help my wife cope with the loss of our little baby boy? How could I offer her emotional comfort when she needs it the most? How do I pray?

I felt completely powerless, wholly helpless, utterly useless.

Our son was dead for fourteen long minutes- the fourteen longest minutes of my life. By the matchless mercy of Almighty God, however, a NICU doctor heard the Code Blue and rushed into the delivery room.

Brave nurses tried everything to get a tube down his throat, but vernix continued to clog his airway. By divine intervention, the doctor reversed the suction and pulled the waxy substance from our son’s esophagus. That day, a doctor saved my son’s life.

Today, 13 years later, he’s as healthy as any teenager can be. In the meantime …

Back in Mundri: As I stand with this mother over the gravesite of her 18-month-old son, I’m overcome with emotion. To me, her child is no longer a statistic.

To me, he’s a beloved son. He’s a child with a precious soul. A little boy who died far too soon from a completely preventable disease.

I stood with her then and shared her agony. For the first time, I experienced the horror of contaminated water.

It was my first mission trip ever, and it was my first day in Mundri. The mission was to check out the new, freshwater well Neverthirst had installed. It’s why the women greeted us with a hand-woven gift basket. They wanted to thank us.

The last thing I expected to see was the grave of a little boy who never tasted the sweetness of the fresh, life-giving water the new well now provides. For that baby, we arrived too late.

That realization upended my life and changed me forever.

Reliving this story — the whole horrible, sad, preventable mess — has gotten to me again. The reality of this little boy losing his life over a preventable disease places me on the front lines of real suffering.

I guess that’s why I had to write to you.

Please — please understand this child died from something as simple as diarrhea. Here, in Birmingham Alabama, if one of my sons comes down with diarrhea, he won’t see a doctor.

But once this child in Mundri got it, he slowly withered away, one horrible bowel movement after another.

And he’s not alone. More than 800 other sons and daughters in third world countries will die today from a lack of clean water to drink. And another 800 tomorrow … and every day from now on — unless — we can get to them first.

Please — please understand this mother's grief. This little boy would be alive today if only she had access to fresh, clean water. Water that is only 50 yards away — straight down under her feet. Or, if she had the use of a biosand water filter unit in her home.

But so many more lives need saving.

Please — please consider giving this year, if you can. Do you think you could help us dig another well, provide a water filter, or maybe build a spring protection project? It may be in India, Uganda, Myanmar, Chad, Nepal, or Cambodia.

As you know, we partner with local churches and pastors in these remote areas. We go to the hardest to get to, most desolate places that other charities refuse to go.

We do it because as suffering stops, local pastors are able to preach the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ, our Savior — the Living Water.

Any donation you can send — $25, $250, $550 - any amount, will help save people who can't save themselves or their beloved children.

Please do it today if you can. Because you gave in the past, the community of Mundri has the fresh water well they so desperately need. Today, they have the hope of Living Water.

And it’s all because of you. It’s because of people like you who haven’t stopped caring.

Thank you so much for reading this long letter. And please pray for us if you can. Your prayers make a difference.

For His name,
Brandon Gossett
Director of Development

P.S. Every year, in May, Iron Tribe Fitness hosts one of the most significant fundraising events of the year. It's called Workout for Water (W4W).

This year's event is taking place on Saturday, May 4, 2019, right here in Birmingham Alabama. The workout starts at 9:00 a.m. sharp. It's located at Rail Road Park, 1600 1st Ave South, Birmingham, AL. If you are in town, we'd love to meet you personally.

Here's what makes this event so unique. Neverthirst's Matching Partners agree to match, dollar-for-dollar, every dime you donate. So, if you send $50, our Matching Partners will match your $50. If you give $500, our Matching Partners will match your gift with $500 of their own.

That’s why it’s so crucial for you to log into and give as generously as you can.

P.P.S. A special word about our Matching Partners. These generous people are committing up to $300,000 in matching funds. That’s how much they believe in this cause.

But — and this is vital — the operative phrase is “Matching Funds.” That means caring people like yourself must donate before these matching funds are released. That's why we desperately need you to give as freely as you can. I think you would agree that it would be a shame if any of this $300,000 were to go unclaimed or unused.

Together, with your help, we can raise $600,000 to save lives. So please, give as generously as you can.


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