Water for Generations
The good, the bad and the heart-wrenching are at our fingertips every day. A few stories beg discovery in the endless loop of social media. A video of a young boy drinking murky water out of a puddle in Afghanistan caused Michelle Ferrier to pause. Seeing the most basic of human needs unmet — clean water — left a pit in her stomach. "It can be so easy to see something sad and move past it without a second thought," says Michelle, who serves as Practice Administrator for VITUTY at Adventist Health Simi Valley. "Something about this little boy sparked an idea: I could do something to help."
Water is a thoughtless necessity for the average American, as it flows freely in nearly every household. Many Americans exert minimal effort to get a glass of water, fill up the dog bowl, run a load of laundry or take a shower. As Michelle dug deeper, she became acutely aware of Afghanistan's profound need for clean, accessible water.
"Often, it can become overwhelming to try and help people with such big needs,” explains Michelle. “I had to remind myself that although I might not be able to solve this problem for the whole country, I was capable of doing something for an entire province."
"Often, it can become overwhelming to try and help people with such big needs," explains Michelle. "I had to remind myself that although I might not be able to solve this problem for the whole country, I was capable of doing something for an entire province."
Having been born in Afghanistan, Michelle carries an emotional tie to the people there. "My mother maintains relationships in Afghanistan, so when this idea entered my mind, I knew she had the connections to turn it into a reality," she says. With the help of her mother and the support of her husband, Cory Ferrier, Michelle knew this dream was possible. “Cory really helped me with bringing this vision to life,” shares Michelle.
Michelle connected with Mushtaba — a philanthropist living in Kabul who devotes his time to helping those in need — to begin building a well. The dream of constructing a well near a neighborhood, school and mosque became a reality when Mushtaba found the perfect location in the Kabul Province. People in this community would travel up to an hour to locate clean water to bring back home for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Mushtaba kept Michelle closely connected with this project from start to finish by sending photos and videos of the construction spanning just over two months. "Initially, we were unsure of the longevity of the well, but once the digging began, I was informed it would produce water for up to 40 years!” beams Michelle. “Everything came together so beautifully.”
Children who once walked miles for water now gather at the central well to quench their thirst from running around in the afternoon heat. Someday, their children will gather with friends and classmates at that same spot. Michelle's well will provide clean water for generations.
When beginning this project, Michelle wanted to include her family. "In Afghan Middle Eastern culture, there is the belief that good deeds will always come back to you,” she says. “I wanted to invite my family to be a part of this good deed so they, in return, could also receive a blessing. Big or small, I know that we can all make a difference and that by doing so, we receive that same amount of joy."
Michelle has words of wisdom for those who recognize opportunities to care for others and the world’s many unmet needs. "I think many people just don't know where to start when they see a need," she says. "My best advice is to start by asking questions."