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Living Waters for the World celebrates 1,000 clean water partnerships

‘It’s not about installing a water system. It’s about building relationships’

by Living Waters for the World | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Clean Water U students and guests raise glasses of purified lake water to toast 1,000 clean water partnerships. (Photo by Doug Depies)

OXFORD, Mississippi — When 58 mission volunteers representing 17 states and four countries gathered at Camp Hopewell for the 62nd session of Living Waters for the World’s (LWW’s) Clean Water U training, their end-of-week celebration took on a deeper significance.  Special guests joined the students to celebrate a remarkable milestone for this 26-year ministry of the Synod of Living Waters1,000 clean water partnerships formed in communities throughout the world.

“It’s a miracle,” says LWW founder Rev. Wil Howie. “When our first community water treatment system was installed in Mexico in 1996, we couldn’t have dreamed where the Lord would take us.”

As water organizations go, Living Waters for the World is unique. The organization trains volunteers, mostly from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) churches, to form international water partnerships. Teams engage directly with communities and train them to purify contaminated water, providing health and hope to families they serve.

When the ministry began training teams in 2004, the number of water partnerships grew exponentially.  In response, Living Waters for the World developed on-the-ground support infrastructure termed “networks.” Today, water teams and their partners receive logistical, technical, and training support across 11 networked regions.

From left, Rubenia Sanchez, LWW Guatemala coordinator; Steve Young, executive director, and Ancy Fils Aime, LWW Haiti director, celebrate the organization’s 1,000th clean water partnership. (Photo by Michael Magee)

“Living Waters for the World is integral in the communities we serve,” says LWW Guatemala Coordinator Rubenia Sanchez.  “It’s not just about installing a water system.  It’s about building relationships, it’s about developing the community and giving them tools so they can put all they have into taking ownership of their health and their future.”

Executive Director Steve Young, who began working with Living Waters for the World in 2001, often quotes anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

“Now with more than 2,300 volunteers trained and 1,000 water partnerships in the world, Living Waters is a modern-day loaves and fishes story,” Young said. “However, the feeding is not done. God is calling us onward, to join where our sisters and brothers continue to hope for better lives, sharing together living water for our bodies and our souls.”

View “The Story of Living Waters for the World” by clicking here.    


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