When Roland Bergeron, owner of a custom home building company, first heard that more than 800 million people in the world didn’t have access to clean water, he was shocked. An engineer by trade, he became even more involved in water ministry in 2002, when he went on his first mission trip to Central America. On that trip, his heart was so stirred that he continued to participate in multiple trips to Central America.
Still, Roland knew that God was calling him to take more action, and in 2002 he led a group of volunteers to found Water of Life to provide water wells to those most in need of clean water in this world. In 2004, Roland made the life-changing trip to Liberia, West Africa, soon adding Sierra Leone and eventually India to the service area. Finding his life's calling, Roland turned over his home building company to his son's care, and Water of Life has since spread, serving hundreds of thousands of people every year in these three countries.
Our 5 Principles of Excellence
Providing access to clean water for every human across the globe is a monumental goal, and there are many organizations working to do so. While each is necessary, Water of Life is very different than most water charities, for five specific core principles we’re committed to protecting on every single project:
Every dollar matters
We consistently drill more wells every year, with over 350 new wells drilled in 2016, providing more than 300,000 people clean water for generations to come. In doing so we are reversing the curse and trend of rampant disease and daily death for entire regions.
And, we’ve done it all with lean overhead—only four full-time employees stateside—allowing us to keep costs down, stay quick on decisions, flexible as needs arise, and focused on what really matters. Established in 2002 following a missions trip, our non-traditional model later evolved and was developed in 2006, becoming tremendously successful. We partner with locals indigenous to the regions in Africa and India—people who know the language, the culture and the landscape of need. They take pride and ownership in both the villages we serve and the work. That’s why our proven model is creating employment, transforming communities from the inside out and empowering long-term sustaining of the wells in addition to the spiritual and logistical infrastructure we’ve established.
We dig deeper
Many water organizations dig wells, often around 25-50 feet deep, providing clean water… for a few years. But wells at that depth face dangers of contamination contracted from the seeping through of contaminants from the soil above over time, and often run dry. Our wells are drilled deep into the aquifer, sometimes drilling through deep rock, to ensure clean water will continue to flow through both rainy and dry seasons for decades to come. Many times, in fact, we’ll drill 150-200 feet deep. It’s a large difference, and one with large impact—our wells last between 25 and 100 years with minimal maintenance completed by the local villages.
The Power of Partnerships
A model of efficiency
Many organizations can provide wells at a cost of around $12,000, reflecting high costs of travel, teams and overhead to get the project done. In contrast, Water of Life’s cost per well is only $3,500—and that well will provide water to more than 1,000 people on average. But our focus on efficiency doesn’t end there—we’ve also invested in the purchase of drill rigs that are housed in the areas we serve, and local contractors in others to engage the local economy, keep our costs low and quality high.
Building lasting change
While investing in these unreached communities is one part of what we do, we also realize how important it is that the local community be invested in their wells. For this reason, we employ local vendors and labor when drilling, creating networks of indigenous workers to manage and maintain it long after we have gone. This sustainability factor means we are empowering each community, cultivating a sense of ownership and training on well maintenance and repair that keeps us from having to travel constantly to check on each drill point.
Beyond the well
There is one more point of difference, and is the most important one: In everything we do, we believe we exist first and foremost to bring God’s love to people through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Understanding that Christ’s love is what drives us, empowers us and challenges us to care for others, we’re committed to sharing and showing His love—the true water of life—in everything we do, with every person we come in contact with, providing not only for their physical needs, but for their spiritual as well.
It’s why, despite how much investment we’ve made in drill rigs, drilling teams and well-drilling infrastructure, we’ve made an even bigger investment into our network of pastors across the regions we touch. From identifying and training, to equipping and supporting, we’ve cultivated a growing relationship with thousands of pastors who know the area, live in the villages, are indigenous to the area and who are focused on building discipleship, community, and ongoing support to help those we reach with the Gospel to grow in their walk with God and multiply our impact.
When we say beyond the well, it’s because
our work truly goes beyond the well,
establishing a ripple effect that is part of our foundational core beliefs.
Providing access to clean water for every human across the globe is a monumental goal, and there are many organizations working to do so.
While each is necessary, Water of Life is very different than most. The most important one is everything we do is to show God's love around the world.