Water To Thrive is a student-led organization at Wartburg College that has raised funds to build wells in rural Africa. The organization was founded in 2013 and is a chapter of the national organization Water To Thrive.

“Access to clean water is one of the biggest reasons for health risks that people in underdeveloped countries face,” Ali Williams Perez, Water to Thrive president and fourth-year student, said.

“Each well we fund can help around 250 people and can add about six hours back to the days of women and children who otherwise would have had to walk to get water.” Dr. Shawn Ellerbroek, the group’s advisor, has taken several May Term trips to Tanzania since 2011. The experience showed Ellerbroek the high water scarcity and served as motivation to get involved. “It was natural for me to begin working with them towards the solutions of green clean water to Ethiopia and Tanzania,” Ellerbroek said.

In the past few years, Water To Thrive has been aiming to build awareness of the group’s mission and fundraise to build wells. In the 2017-18 school year, the group surpassed the goal of $5,000 and raised over $11,000, according to watertothrive.org.

“This year we are working towards funding our 16th well,” Perez said. “Each well costs $5,000 so we are working to fundraise enough for at least one more well to be put into rural Africa.”

The group is working to make the goal a priority and make sure to keep the group active. In the Winter Term the chapter hosts an Ethiopian dinner where students and community members purchase a plate to raise funds.

Also, a ‘Walk to Water’ was held with middle school students in May, which is a one-mile walk round trip to the river. The event had previously raised more than $5,000 in the past, according to Ellerbroek.

“It is important for the community to be involved because we all have the ability to make a difference,” Perez said. “Waverly is a great town and everyone who lives here can see that. It is the least we can do to use some of our blessings and turn them into some for others who need them.” Prior to Water To Thrive, individuals raised funds for the Wartburg Wells campaign.

Due to the positive response from the community and school, the company believed a Water To Thrive chapter would fit best on Wartburg’s grounds in the 2013 school year. For more information about the club contact Perez at a.williamsperez@wartburg.edu or go to the group’s Facebook page, Wartburg College Water To Thrive.







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