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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Dennis Hida

Photo from Dennis Hida

In 2007, Dennis Hida was flipping through a magazine when he came across an article on a former tennis player who had launched a clean water project. At first, he tossed it aside. But a few days later, the pastor at his church gave a sermon about a man who gave up everything he owned to follow Jesus.

“That message hit me hard,” recalls Hida, a business analyst who is a member of Windward Church of the Nazarene. “In church you learn that God speaks to you. God yelled at me, ‘Get your butt out there and help.’”

He made a few small donations to various organizations to fund water wells in countries that include Ethiopia and Malawi.

“After a couple of years, I felt like I needed to do more,” he says.

In 2009, he threw a fundraiser to provide clean water in Haiti. Currently, he is in the process of funding three wells in Mali in West Africa. The first was completed last month and the second is under construction. Hida also has an initiative to fund 10 wells in Mali’s neighboring Burkina Faso in the works.

In order to construct these wells, Hida and his church are hosting a fundraiser from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday (Aug. 16) at Bay View Golf Course. It will feature live entertainment and a silent auction, as well as a video and discussion about water in Burkina Faso. Food for sale will include corn chowder, oxtail soup, white chili, Spam musubi and baked goods.

These wells would increase water access for surrounding communities. “Typically, women and children have to get the water,” Hida explains. “At times, in certain areas, people have to walk hours one way … Since water is so crucial for everything in your life, it is a daily thing that they have to do. To try to pull people out of poverty, water is a huge thing.”

Those hours, he says, are time that children could be in school. On top of that, the task often can be dangerous, leaving them vulnerable to the threat of predators – human and animal. Earlier this year, Hida traveled to Mali to visit the well sites. One of the sites, for example, was a 50-minute drive from the nearest city – and most people did not have cars.

While Hida is in charge of the project, he says it would not be possible without the churches and organizations that have donated money.

In addition to helping those in need in other countries, Hida hopes to educate local students about water, as well as other global issues such as poverty and human trafficking.

“I am thinking, when you educate the kids, if they get it and they understand it and they take it to heart, it would help conquer these problems,” he says.

Fundraiser tickets cost $5, $3 and $2. To purchase tickets or for more information on how to get involved, call 469-9784.

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