Cassi Fitzpatrick, senior communication major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska has already begun her public relations career. Two years ago while serving as a student missionary in Kenya, Africa, Fitzpatrick spent a week with the Maasai tribe, eating and sleeping in their huts and drinking from their limited water supply. She saw their cattle dying from dehydration and their dusty soil blowing away with the winds.
Because livestock represent their main form of wealth and milk is a dietary mainstay, the existence of the Maasai tribe is threatened. Fitzpatrick takes this very seriously because during her stay she became part of the tribe, meaning they would rely on each other in life or death circumstances. “I accepted that responsibility,” she said. “This disappearing tribe needs support against deadly droughts in order to keep their traditions and way of life.”
Using the skills she learned in her college classes and communication internship, Fitzpatrick brought together a team of volunteers and organized a campaign to raise funds for digging wells for the Maasai tribe. The project, called Not Oh Well, has been divided into three goals.
1. Raise $15,000 for the first well—a simple hand pump.
2. Raise $200,000 for the second well—dug through more than 600 feet of extremely compacted layers of earth formed by previous volcano activity.
3. Raise $350,000 to buy a drilling rig and hire a drilling team to be headquartered in Kenya.
The NOW project is unique because it involves students, faculty members and recent graduates from various colleges and universities around the U.S. Team members include:
Aaron Snelgrove-Southern University Representative/Social Media
Allison Ward-Southwestern University Representative
Daniel Rothgeb-Walla Walla University Representative
The Kents-Andrews University Representatives
Ben Holdsworth-Preliminary Consultant
Claudia Pech-Lead Design
Kristen Vogler-Poster Design
Aldo Ibuado- T-shirt Design Coordinator
Mark Meelhuysen-Drilling Coordinator
Solomon Lenana-Kenyan/Maasai Liaison
Janelle Churchill-“Cycle NOW” Director
Loewen Ricaldi-“Cycle NOW” Co-Director
Cycle NOW is a summer fund raising project to support Not Oh Well. This adventure will be a 1,100 mile bike trip starting in the Utah desert and ending in Lincoln, Nebraska. The purpose is to raise not only funds for drilling wells, but awareness about the lack of clean drinking water around the world.
The trip will take place July 30-August 21. To join up, go to notohwell.com.
“Enjoy Art. Save a Life. Save a Tribe.”
Fitzpatrick, who is also pursuing an art minor, chose to display color-splashed photos she took in Africa for her senior art exhibit, along with other images that represent epiphanies in her life. Additionally, the show included for-sale items handmade by the Maasai, with proceeds going to the Not Oh Well project. Original Maasai-crafted bracelets can currently be purchased for $10 each from Etsy.com (search “notohwell”).
“God has brought so much out of this project already,” Fitzpatrick shared. “When you surrender your life to God He gives you a purpose. It’s not just ‘Oh well’ all the time. It’s N.O.W.”
To contribute funds or learn more about the Not Oh Well project, please visit www.notohwell.com or find the group on Facebook or email: email@example.com. You can also follow the blog at www.notohwell.tumblr.com.