Rick Mayo keeps a copy of the photo that made him roll up his sleeves and help his church deliver water to a dozen African villages.
In the snapshot, a young girl with captivating eyes squats by a brackish pond, dipping her fingers into water the color of dough.
The pastor of Mayo’s church in Virginia Beach, Va., showed his congregation the picture of Natalie. His eyes teared up. Kovie villagers still were drinking polluted water—even after the church dug a well on an earlier trip.
“We have to do something more,” he said.
The problem was the villagers could not easily get to the new well, and many in the region were still walking 11 kilometers a day for water that was often dirty. So Mayo joined the church’s fourth mission to Kovie last summer, traveling to southern Togo in West Africa. The Spring Branch Community Church had raised $58,000 for a major water project that included a 40,000-gallon water tower, the generator that pumps water to the tower, and pipes to convey the water to Kovie and 11 surrounding villages totaling 27,000 people.
Mayo expected to get his hands dirty on the trip, but villagers had already laid most of the pipe when his team arrived. So he focused on plans for a medical clinic. At a cost of only about $3,000, they had raised enough for two.
Mayo, 52, credits his desire to help others to two things: his family and Xavier. A 1983 business graduate, he now manages a Raymond James Financial Services branch, but certain Xavier classes launched a lifetime of reflection for him. “The older I get, the more appreciative I am for not just the economics side of it, but the cerebral part of it—philosophy, theology,” he says.
Mayo’s team also brought bags stuffed with about $1,000 worth of toiletries, medications, school books and bibles. They also learned Natalie is an orphan and now pay for her schooling, which along with knowing she has fresh water, is a comfort for Mayo.