Leading effort for clean water in Africa

Retired librarian Mattie Kinard always had a desire to travel to Africa. Her wish became reality when she made her first trek across Ghana in 1997 with the National Association of Black Social Workers.Several visits later, while on a tour bus, she realized many stops were depressingly similar.The stench of raw sewage in the streets hung in the air. Villagers scraped algae and leaves from the surface of murky ponds to dip buckets into the water. Women and children walked as far as 10 miles to fetch water, half of which had splashed away by the time they reached home.“God placed those people in my heart,” Kinard said. “It’s so unreal that people are living like that. No one should live the way they live.”

In 2005, Kinard founded a nonprofit called Small Beginnings, BIG RESULTS to help strangers more than 6,500 miles from San Antonio as part of a network of humanitarian organizations that provide clean water for African communities.Kinard’s nonprofit raises funds through local musicals, Preparing for the rains, fashion shows and social events, with the proceeds sent to the Christian Broadcasting Network, which builds family and community wells at designated sites in Africa and Asia.According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.7 million people die each year from waterborne diseases.Kinard’s initial goal was to build 10 wells in Ghana by 2011.

She said she’s following the example of her mother, Carrie M. Montgomery, a beautician — Kinard affectionately called her “Dear” — who helped people on the East Side by loaning them money or styling their hair for free.A fundraising effort in 2012 by students from the Feik School of Pharmacy at the University of Incarnate Word paid for a well in Awuku Gua in Ghana.Arcelia Johnson-Fannin, founding dean of the pharmacy school, had challenged the students to raise $1,500 through the Pennies for Pure Water project by donating 5 cents a day, five days a week. “It’s just a drop in the bucket, but it’s a bucket that’s needed.”Kinard hopes to return to Ghana in 2015. And she dreams of other projects, such as building schools and providing indoor bathrooms.“It’s important to me that I do something to be of service to someone else,” Kinard said. “This is what drives me; everyone should have a mission; it would make for a better world.”

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