Four Points businessman working to bring fresh water to Africa

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"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

images of poor African villagers gathering murky, contaminated

water to live stirred a River Place businessman into action.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Dick

Moeller started Water to Thrive a few years ago to bring fresh

water to people in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Since

April 2008, Water to Thrive has sponsored more than 170 water well

projects, supplying more than 90,000 people with clean water.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">“The

communities we’ve helped have never ever in their history had

access to a sustainable, clean, safe source of water,” Moeller

said.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Last

June, the reaction of a 6- year-old girl to fresh water made a

lasting impression on Moeller. He was one of the officials gathered

around to dedicate a new well in the village of Denkel in

Ethiopia. 

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Alemitu,

the girl, didn’t want to wait for the ceremony to finish. She made

her way to the front of the crowd. She told the officials she

wanted a drink of water and wanted to pump it herself. She got her

drink and splashed her face and arms, too.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Moeller,

a grandfather of two, has taken four W2T trips so far. He and his

wife Joyce are looking forward to a trip in October. Their daughter

and son-in-law have also been on W2T trips. 

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">  “Part

of why I’m doing this is I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life.

And I want to apply my skills in some way to help others. It is a

good use of my time and energy,” Moeller said.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">His

40-year technology career includes a dozen years at Texas

Instruments Inc. and several startups including ProfitMaster

Computer Systems Inc. In a decade as CEO and president, he made

Austin-based VTEL Corp. public in 1992 and grew it to 650 employees

and $200 million in annual revenues. Moeller also became a partner

in SSM Ventures/Verity Ventures, a venture capital investment firm

specializing in communications, Internet and software

opportunities.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Moeller

was inspired to start Water to Thrive after his Bible study class

at Triumphant Love Lutheran Church started focusing on world hunger

and poverty.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">During

one session they learned about the Ethiopian water crisis from the

organization Glimmer of Hope. Glimmer said that $5,000 can fund a

hand-dug well that changes the lives of 300 to 500 people with

clean water. 

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">A few in

the study group created a matching challenge fund. A short time

later, Triumphant Love had more than $20,000 in commitments, enough

money to dig 12 fresh water wells.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Moeller

remembers thinking:  “If one church can make this kind of a

difference, imagine the impact when we all come together to see

change.” 

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">That was

the beginning of Water to Thrive, which partners with Glimmer in

digging wells. 

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">People

from Austin and all over the country have been part of teams that

go to build these wells. Local Concordia University Texas students

have raised money and participated on trips, too. They are

motivated to help.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">“Without

clean, safe water, it is nearly impossible for a community to make

economic, health and educational progress. With it, the door is

opened to break the cycle of poverty,” Moeller said.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Ethiopia

is a landlocked country in the eastern Horn of Africa and is one of

the five poorest countries in the world. Over half of Ethiopia’s 85

million population has no access to clean water.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Located

in western Africa on the Atlantic coast, Sierra Leone is also among

the poorest countries. It has six million people and even its

largest hospital frequently is without running water.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">In both

areas, women and girls bear the brunt of the water crisis and it is

their duty to collect water for their families. The average walk

for water in rural Ethiopia is five hours a day, causing them to

miss opportunities for an education.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Once

brought home, the contaminated water has to be strained with a

cloth and boiled to help purify it, but firewood is scarce to fuel

the fires.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Many

times the water is still unsafe. On average one in 10 children die

before turning five because of a waterborne disease. At any given

time, half of the rural populations in these areas suffer from

water-related illnesses. Moeller’s Water to Thrive is making a

difference.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">During a

trip in 2009, Moeller witnessed a 1,000-student high school get

water for the first time.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Every

time a project is done, the W2T team sets up a local water council.

The council is responsible for maintaining and protecting the water

well including ongoing sanitation education.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">This

year, W2T is coordinating trips in June and October with between 10

and 12 voluntee.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">For more

information contact Moeller at Dick@WaterToThrive.org.


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