Jodi Ekbundit said she has always had a hard time thinking about children who did not have safe, clean drinking water.
“I’ve always had it brewing,” she said, adding that she also felt helpless because she didn’t have an avenue that she knew of where she could offer help.
A couple of years ago, while she was talking to her friend Phillip Crabtree, he told how he was invested in a clean water project in Tanzania and that he knew the people who drill some of the wells.
“This was the Lord bringing us together,” Ekbundit said.
Ekbundit, a homeschooling mom, and Sarah Malone, her friend and fellow homeschooler, were reading “A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story,” which chronicles the life of children who must travel several hours a day through the African bush to get clean water. While making these journeys, the children in the book also survive animal and human attacks, Malone said.
“Since it is a true story, it became more real for us,” Malone said.
Both the Ekbundit and Malone children were affected by what the children in the book went through to get clean water. It affected Ekbundit so much that she reached out to the nonprofit that Crabtree told her about, Go Drill International, which was begun by an American family who moved to East Africa in 2008 and are committed to their mission work of resolving water issues by building wells.
Once Ekbundit decided this was where she wanted to focus her time and resources, she wondered how to get kids involved and be part of the fundraising for Go Drill International.
“If mine can be a part, why not others?” Ekbundit said. “Why not empower them to do something about it?”
The Ekbundits began Kids for Kids nonprofit. The Malones immediately jumped in and last year, the organization worked with Crabtree who presented information about Go Drill and kids in need to the 20 members of Kids for Kids. The organization is not affiliated with any church but rather by kids who have a love for other kids, Malone said.
Kids for Kids learned that to dig a well would cost $3,800, so they set their sights on raising enough to build one well, Malone said. They also discussed how Go Drill hires people from the village to build the wells and the benefit of that for the families.
The kids who felt comfortable sharing the organization’s story did and others held lemonade stands. In the end, they raised over $40,000 — enough to build 11 wells — which means that every day, 4,000 kids and other villagers have access to clean water.
“People opened their hearts and their wallets,” Ekbundit said. “It was insane and so above and beyond what we expected.”
This year, Ekbundit said they are changing their strategy and having the children who are part of Kids for Kids take more ownership with the projects to showcase the groups’ talents and energy.
The kickoff for the next fundraiser has begun, and 10-year-old Cameron Malone shared with his church congregation about the nonprofit and their affiliation with Go Drill.
He also told the congregation that Kids for Kids would be raking leaves for two Saturdays to raise money as one of the fundraisers to purchase more wells.
About 40 children are now part of the nonprofit and four families helped during the raking fundraiser, and each felt called upon to help and stepped up to make the fundraiser a success.
“They are offering services and coming up with ideas on their own,” Malone said.
Malone said that Cameron empathizes with the children in Tanzania and said that it is difficult now to make a Christmas list when he thinks about the African children’s desire to have clean water.
Ekbundit hopes to have Cameron speak to more audiences because of his passion for the project and soon they will present to Heritage Christian School. They are planning to have an arts and crafts sale where kids can create the items and the event will also provide an opportunity for the members to share why they are involved with Kids for Kids.
A three-on-three kids basketball tournament is also being planned for February.
“I feel like Kids for Kids will be here for some time,” Ekbundit said. “We are thinking of different things beyond Go Drill.”
She said it is possible that they will choose a new need to support next year because they are learning that there are many needs.
“I like that we are changing direction to focus on the kids’ leadership and their talent to support [Kids for Kids],” Ekbundit said. “And it is something where every kid can feel good for how they are helping.”
For more information or to get involved, visit the Kids for Kids Facebook page.