Will walk for water

Author: Carol Elliott

Michael Meyer learned at least one thing during his recent fundraising walk: Those water balloons sure do hurt.

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“I was able to dodge most of them, but those that did hit their target, hurt,” says Meyer.  “Next year when I do this, I am going to have to reconsider the whole water balloon concept or wear body armor.” 

Meyer, who teaches accountancy at the Mendoza College of Business, willingly subjected himself to being on the receiving end of the globular missiles lobbed by gleeful students for a good cause. He was raising funds to support the building of wells in a small, poverty-stricken country in equatorial Africa, Burkina Faso.

As part of the effort, Meyer walked a 30-mile course about the University of Notre Dame campus on May 3, raising money through donations and through the sale of those water balloons. About 60 students also collected funds in dorms and through a special crowdfunding page at https://www.crowdrise.com/burkinafasowells.  

“I am so humbled by the generosity of the Notre Dame family,” said Meyer.  “We received donations not only from thousands of students, but from faculty and staff throughout the University as well as from alumni from around the world who heard about the walk through social media.”

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All told, the walk brought in about $5,280, or enough to build two wells, which can dramatically improve the quality of life in a village where women walk up to three miles each way to get water, often from unsafe sources. The poor water has contributed to the deaths of an estimated one in three children under the age of 10, said Meyer, adding that one well can serve a village of 400 to 1,000 individuals and provide clean water for a lifetime.

Meyer initially become involved in raising funds for the wells after hearing a children’s Christmas service at his church, where parishioners were invited to contribute toward building a well in Burkina Faso. He continued to contribute, along with other Mendoza faculty and staff members, to support a mission team traveling to the region. Eventually, the entire Meyer family got involved, with Meyer, his wife Teresa and three daughters Lily, Addison, and Kelsey donating the full cost of a well themselves.

The idea for the “walk for water” around campus came to Meyer after hearing a challenge from Pope Francis to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and also after reading commentaries on the life of Father Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, who passed away in February.

For more information about his fundraising effort, contact Mike Meyer at (574) 631-4536 or meyer.96@nd.edu