Jasper's Summer Service Projects

PEACE IS POSSIBLE IF BASIC HUMAN NEEDS ARE MET.  This quote by Mattie JT Stepanek inspires us LemonAID Warriors every day. Jasper spent an amazing summer addressing the basic human need for FOOD and WATER.  Here is his story in his words!FOOD:  I applied for a grant from Katies Krops to grow a garden and feed the hungry in Los Angeles. I teamed up with another LemonAID Warrior, my friend Nicholas. He invited his grandpa Maurice to mentor us.  The grant came through!!  Thanks KATIE!!  Follow our story.  Here is part ONE of our four-part video blog.  Introducing...Krop Club LA!

WATER: In June I went to Uganda with Blood Water Mission.  I helped my sister fundraise to build wells in Africa with them since we were little.  We visited wells in villages, schools and medical clinics.  After a 23 hour plane flight, we drove to the very north of Uganda.  Our wells were built way up there because thats where they need it the most.  But it's dangerous because the roads are bad.  Here's a picture of the car I was in after it swerved into a ditch and flipped three times.  It was the most scared I've ever been in my life but I'm thankful I'm alive and no one was hurt.  After that we were thinking we should go home.  But I decided I would be OK to tough it out.  I wanted to meet the people we came to visit.

I'm so glad I toughed it out.  I met the most amazing people.  At first I was afraid I'd just be sad the whole trip. I'd feel bad  because I have way more than I need and it would be hard to meet poor people who are depressed and hopeless.   But I was wrong.   They were actually even more poor than I imagined. They had no shoes, torn clothes, clay houses with no toilets or electricity.  They had to dig for their food and walk miles to schools that had no desks.   But even though they were this poor, they were the happiest people I ever met.  They had their family. They had their community and school.  And they had a well that brought them clean water so they could be healthy.  The well gave them hope for a better life and I think it's the hope that made them happy even if they had nothing else.  They looked at me like a person who brought hope.  Not like a person who is selfish.  They didn't beg or ask me for things.  They just wanted me to tell their story when I got home.

We asked them how the well made their life better.  They said kids now get to go to school instead of walking miles a day to fetch dirty water that made them sick or killed them.  And now there are lessdeaths and sicknesses from cholera, diarrhea and dysentery but there were still people dying from these diseases.  Mostly kids under 5.  That was disappointing. These diseases are from germs in dirty water and our partners thought that a well with clean water would totally fix it. But kids were still dying so they needed more solutions.

I thought a solution would be to build a hospital, but that would take years and millions of dollars and so many kids would die in the meantime. But our partners had an idea to help immediately.  They started educating the villages and schools about sanitation. They taught the villagers how to build these Tippy Taps and taught about proper hand-washing.  Already it's making a huge difference. And it didn't cost money or take a long time to put up. Sicknesses and death rates are now dropping fast and school attendance is going up.  Here's a Tippy Tap picture. This simple thing lets people wash their hands and actually saves lives.

The highlight for me was becoming friends with Micah, who traveled with us from Nashville, and playing with Micah and the kids we met in Uganda.   Micah and I had nothing in common with them at all.  We didn't even speak the same language. But it felt like we knew each other forever.  All it took was a soccer ball to make things fun and we had a great time.  Every place we went, we got some kind of game going.  We were all friends.  It was so easy and so fun.

Here's the most important thing I saw.  People need the basics to live a healthy life.  Water.  Food.  Medical care.  People need hope.  They need family, friends and community.  And if that is all they have, then it is possible to be truly happy.  I'm going to keep helping them get what they need so they can eventually take care of themselves.  And I am going be much more grateful for my life.  I'm going to remember the feeling of friendship and happiness that can happen when strangers from opposite sides of the world get together with nothing in common but a soccer ball.