It started as a 50th anniversary trip, but Arlington residents Bud and Sandy Mulcahy experienced so much more than a safari when they went to South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in 2010.
This one trip inspired a mission to bring fresh water to communities that needed it. They learned that villagers were walking miles every day just to find water for their families, a situation that resonated with Bud.
“He lived on a farm for seven years and they had no running water in the house,” said Sandy of Bud’s upbringing in Seguin, Texas. On the plane ride home, Bud envisioned a solution and Africa Water Wells was born.
Though Bud passed away in 2015, after just one trip back to Kenya, Sandy has continued this important work. It will be their legacy, one that started when the couple was already in their 70’s.
“It was Bud’s idea, but he was only alive for one well,” said Sandy. “If he is aware, somehow, he would have to be dancing. This was his idea. This was his vision.”
Operating in partnership with Grace Covenant Church, Africa Water Wells is a nonprofit with an eight-member board and funded through private donations. The first well was constructed in 2012, and the most recent well at Tembwo Girls School was their 11th. This well, drilled at 2,000-student Tembwo Girls School, included a pipe added outside the school wall for the community to obtain water.
“The gusher well is producing 10,000 liters per hour,” said Sandy of this recent addition.
The ministry has expanded beyond fresh water. In 2017, a medical team went to Kenya, and there have also been programs for women’s empowerment and educational training. They have also worked with rain catch systems and partnered with the Bucket Ministry, a nonprofit based in Rockwall that helps villagers filter water in their homes, estimating a million gallons of clean water over the life of the bucket.
“Fifteen years ago, you could not have done this,” said Sandy of the resources they have been able to find online to make this ministry a successful reality. In fact, she calls supporter Jack Jackson and all faithful donors indispensable.
Now into her 80’s, Sandy, who has made eight trips to Kenya, does not have plans to slow down. She takes her ninth trip this February with her son Lee and a possible team, when a 12th well will be built at a 1,200-student school.
“We were asked to join two other groups, Tenwek Hospital and Africa Gospel Church, in completing a Christian project which ran out of money,” said Sandy. “The well was drilled at Samburu and produced water but needed a pump, tower, and drip irrigation for crops to provide water and vegetables for an extremely arid region. This makes Number 12 for us! Unexpected opportunity!”
Into Africa: How God Created a Ministry from an African Safari by Sandy Mulcahy