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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Wishing Well seeks involvement

Monday, January 28, 2008  
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By Sarah Gogarty

Many students take for granted the gallons of water used each day, while thousands of people in other countries have little or no water at all.

Wishing Well hopes to inspire people to be a part of the solution to this problem by raising funds to build wells for fresh water in Africa.

Ryan Groves introduced Wishing Well to Oklahoma Christian University in the fall 2006. Groves’ brother started Wishing Well at Pepperdine University in early 2006.

“When I started Wishing Well, it was more for changing things here at Oklahoma Christian than it was for changing Africa,” Groves said.

Looking for a change, Groves hoped to see people have a heart for the cause. The more people who care at Oklahoma Christian, the more people in Africa will benefit.

“Here [in America], we are really bad about caring about other human beings, and for some odd reason, if you put a little bit of distance between us, we care even less,” Groves said.

Wishing Well’s goals are to have a larger impact on Oklahoma Christian, in America and in Africa.

“Our first [goal] is to enact social change here in America in response to the humanitarian situation in Africa, and our second and probably most poignant goal, is to raise the money to go and build clean water wells in Africa,” Groves said. “The emphasis in both of these is change. Changing the culture here and changing lives over there.”

Groves has received a larger response than he expected from Oklahoma Christian students.

Over the past two years, Wishing Well has found creative ways to raise money and awareness about the issues in Africa, and many people have gotten the chance to do their part and find a way to get involved. 

Between musical performances, art shows and getting the word out, Wishing Well has made a change at the university.

Inspired by other groups who have filmed documentaries, such as Invisible Children and Miss HIV, Groves saw the huge impact those documentaries made and believes Wishing Well can make the same impact.

“We have a huge heart for campuses across the nation for kids our age who are still young enough where they can believe in changing the world, [like Invisible Children],” Groves said.

Groves also spoke with the executive producer of Miss HIV and found a great inspiration to make a documentary.

Later this year, Groves and eight others are planning on going to Awassa, Ethiopia, to shoot the documentary.

“We picked Ethiopia because it has one of the lowest water accessibility rates,” Groves said.

Out of 75 million people, almost 22 percent of the population has access to clean water, and only 11 percent of people living in rural areas can obtain clean water.

“That’s a bit scary,” Groves said.

Eight of the nine people going on the trip are involved with Wishing Well, including professional photographer, Esther Haven. Haven has shot photos for documentaries in more than 28 countries.

The majority of the film will be used for the documentary to raise awareness about the Wishing Well group and helping Africa. The other use for what is shot will be in making a curriculum for churches to use in youth groups.

“We are shooting a documentary, focused not just on the death toll and the heart break but trying to bring to light the humanity of it,” Groves said. “I’m trying to make these people real, human and not just a statistic.”

Wishing Well not only wants to focus on the awareness of the scarcity of clean water to the people of Africa, but the group also wants to ensure they are able to raise the money to help those people. Wishing Well asks students to get involved in any way they can.

Oklahoma Christian freshman Brianna Gaither came up with her own idea before she was officially involved with Wishing Well. She started making bracelets and then she sold them, making hundreds of dollars for Wishing Well.

Oklahoma Christian senior Loren O’Laughlin also found a place within Wishing Well. He helped the organization put the art fundraiser gallery together.

“Essentially, the formula is to pick something you think will work and make it work,” O’Laughlin said. “We don’t just need artists, we don’t just need musicians, we don’t just need the hippie side of OC.”

Wishing Well is looking for people who have a heart for others in worse situations than themselves and students with the knowledge needed to help the organization grow.

“We have an entire school of business, and we need those people to decide that they want to help us,” O’Laughlin said.

This semester, Wishing Well has a new way for students to get involved without spending their money. It only requires their time.

“This is our big challenge for OC right now; it is an incredible easy way for people to help out,” Groves said. “What we need from people are their thoughts, just as much as their actions.”

Most Wednesday nights this semester, there will be a documentary playing in the Garvey center.

Wishing Well is hosting the event, hoping students will watch the documentaries and then provide feedback about what they liked and disliked about the films.

This process will benefit the group as they work towards making their own film. Everyone’s help is needed.

“It takes the talents of the entire campus to bring this together,” O’Laughlin said. “One of the things that is so cool about Wishing Well is that it’s not exclusive. Everyone is important.”

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