Two members of the OLCHS Class of ’69 have decided you’re never too old to make a difference. And they are trying to do it in a big way: they want to dig a water well in Uganda—raise the money to have someone else dig it, that is. Their kids can’t believe that their mothers not only created their own web page, but are using social media to get the word out.
Debbie Siemeck Quealy of Clarendon Hills and Patt Hayes Heise of Palatine became re-acquainted at their 40th class reunion a few years ago, and they kept in touch via Facebook. This past summer, Debbie traveled to Namibia in Africa for two weeks to volunteer with Hope for Kids International, a non-profit organization committed to helping children around the world who live in extreme poverty. Her Facebook postings about the living conditions among the people in Africa were haunting, especially stories about how the people have to walk several miles each day in order to retrieve drinking water…contaminated water that is from open watering holes they share with wild animals…how the children can’t go to school because they spend a large part of their day getting water…how the little girls are vulnerable to attack and rape during their daily walks.
“It absolutely broke my heart to read Debbie’s posts”, said Heise. “I couldn’t get the kids out of my mind.” So Patt messaged Debbie about how she would like to help in some way, and after several discussions, they decided to use social media to raise the $10,500 needed to dig a well. Thanks to Water 4 Kids—a subsidiary of Hope 4 Kids, and the web site used by the organization, which allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions, Debbie and Patt were able to get the word out to their Facebook friends; and in less than two months, they have raised half of what is needed.
“Unfortunately, we have pretty much tapped out all our friends and relatives,” Heise said with a laugh. “They are getting tired of us begging for donations.” “We are hoping that OLCHS grads, faculty, and the Oak Lawn community in general will help us achieve our goal,” said Quealy. “It would also be wonderful if some organizations looking for a fund-raising idea would considering joining us in our effort.”
Heise added: “There are so many wonderful charitable organizations, and we are all inundated with requests at this time of the year. We hope that people will give our campaign consideration and become a part of something that will literally change the lives of hundreds of people by providing something we all take for granted—clean drinking water, the most basic human need of all.”
Quealy and Heise invite those interested in learning more about their efforts to visit their “Dig a Well” page and watch the video, read about the village they are trying to help, and consider donating: http://www.ministrysync.com/event/website/?m=1614223#1. “I’m sure that if people look at the photographs of the little children filling water containers from the polluted watering hole, they won’t be able to resist the chance to help,” said Heise. “On a day when the world lost Nelson Mandela, we should—more than ever—remember what he said: ‘We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.’”