By CALLIE DANIELS BRYANT
Zimbabwe is fighting a water crisis, but it has an ally in Mississippi: GraceWater, a Yazoo City nonprofit that has already drilled six wells for its villages in the Gweru and Harare regions.
“GraceWater was founded out of a desire by my business partner, Nick King, and I, to leverage our skills and resources in a more eternally impactful way than just a successful business,” said Daniel Cole, partner at Precision King and GraceWater. “Our faith in Jesus Christ calls us to love people, and as a business is in helping conserve water, it was a good fit to bring clean water to those without in the name of Jesus,”
Precision King is an agriculture technology business that produces computers that use cellular activity to report remote data to farmers. It has a line of irrigation technology such as a slow moisture device a farmer can put in the field to measure ground moisture; a “full-blown” weather station; and a measurement device for rice farmers to track water depth in rice fields.
“We were a start-up company and we had started developing all these products and trying to get the company off the ground. About 18 months in, we saw the light that we were going to make money and (we were) grateful that the Lord had blessed us with the company. We prayed about how out of our grateful heart can we give back and it came down to giving water to people,” said Nick King, founder of Precision King and GraceWater.
Founded in 2016, GraceWater drilled two wells that year. For fiscal 2017, which runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, GraceWater has drilled six wells. GraceWater will drill four more wells this coming spring.
King explains that the scheduling is due to how busy Precision King is in summertime. Despite summer respite, GraceWater has bigger goals for 2018.
“Our goal for 2018 is to drill 15 to 20 wells in Africa, expanding outside of Zimbabwe to other countries such as Zambia while also working on drilling in Central America,” Cole said.
This year’s goals were immense to Zimbabwe. GraceWater’s wells helped create farming jobs, stabilize communities and provide basic nourishment to families.
King said, “Two of our projects were done in conjunction with some American nonprofits and they were agricultural-related. We did several that were what you would think of as true community water wells for people who are struggling to find water to bathe in.”
GraceWater’s wells helped several charitable projects such as The Widows of Geru who were 23 women trained by Reclaimed Ministries, based in Starkville, to farm on 10 acres reserved for them. One GraceWater well served over 500 people and created 40 jobs.
GraceWater also provided basic drinking water to over 300 people living in the Quarry Community, a rural gathering of people in traditional housing with no power. Before GraceWater, the Quarry Community residents had to boil their water.
GraceWater’s second agriculture project was in partnership with Habitation of Hope, a ministry that provides foster homing for orphans as well as food and employment for the disenfranchised in Zimbabwe.
“The part of the puzzle with us is that they have a guy who takes these orphans and teaches them a trade: farming, plumbing, or welding – an all-around trade. The orphans were able to grow enough crops for themselves and enough to feed the ministry,” King said.
GraceWater helped provide irrigation which created 35 new jobs for these orphans and nearby communities. Over 600 people with Habitation of Hope benefitted from GraceWater’s help.
The Squatter Camp, which is a peramanent fixture on private land where the residents pay a small fee to the landowner, got a new well drilled by GraceWater which served 300 people and helped parents stay home with their children instead of walking for miles to find clean water.
GraceWater also drilled a well for a private school orphans and children whose families did not have the small amount of money required for public schooling. The well provided clean water to over 300 children from six to 12 years old.
King said, “You don’t think about it until the water’s off but the children’s school is focused around water from the restroom to washing hands to drinking. They didn’t have a water source and we resolved that.”
King and Cole were in Zimbabwe for about two weeks, helping these villages and charitable projects. King described those two weeks as “very busy.”
“Drilling the borehole and installing hand-pumps are typically a two-day process. Larger projects like our agriculture projects can take up to a week depending on several factors such as how many holding tanks are installed and how many meters of underground pipes are required,” Cole said.
Cole and King are grateful for help from local individuals, businesses and organizations like the Bank of Yazoo and Gateway Tire & Service Center to First Baptist Church of Natchez and Yazoo City. They are especially grateful for corporate partnerships with Chicot Irrigation , Benson Pump, Delta Irrigation & Supply, Inc. and Speciality Seed Company, P&R Surge Systems, Inc., and Irrigation Fittings, Inc. and AgUp: Mississippi Ag and Arkansas Ag.
“We are always looking to develop relationships with individuals and businesses who are interested in what GraceWater is doing. This can be on a small individual level or a larger business partnership,” Cole said.
King said, “As a nonprofit you never stop educating people on what you do and what you’re doing. We’re looking at having a big fundraising dinner in the spring in Jackson. We (already) have one in the fall in Yazoo but we’re looking to have an event in Jackson. We want to invite any businesses to be a sponsor for the event, too.”
King and Cole believe the water crisis is a solvable problem, and they want to see the end of the water crisis in their lifetime. Their company, GraceWater, has impacted hundreds of lives already. With more donors and partnerships, GraceWater can impact thousands more.
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