In March 2011, Jacob Frias, general regional director for Walmart, was given a DVD to watch. Kevin Presley, who works for Jacob, had gotten the DVD from a Children of the World concert at his church in Southhaven, Mississippi. Kevin’s heart was touched when he heard the choir describe the plight of millions of children who die from water-related illnesses. He immediately thought that causelife’s mission was right in line with Walmart’s sustainability initiative. Jacob agreed with Kevin and contacted causelife to see how they could help raise funds for this cause.
The decision was made to host a golf tournament in Memphis. Jacob met with Walmart’s vendors in his region and challenged them to sponsor the tournament. Excitement grew as all of them pledged their support to help with this great need. The sponsors included Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kimberly Clarke, Del Monte Foods, Nestle Waters, Nestle Food, Pepperidge Farm, Sara Lee, Flowers Foods, Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Anderson Merchandisers, Proctor and Gamble, Frito Lay, Budweiser of Memphis, Kraft Foods, Lewis Brothers Bakeries, Quaker Foods as well as hundreds of enthusiastic Walmart associates from 45 stores in that region of Tennessee. Each store was pivotal in raising awareness and held their own fundraiser to support the cause.
The tournament was a great success, and more than $75,000 dollars was raised to provide clean-water wells to villages where people only had access to contaminated water.
I just returned from Guatemala, along with Jacob, Rodney Ray of Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, and Dennis Tumlin of Coca-Cola Enterprises. We were able to participate in the dedication of two wells that were drilled in very poor villages through the funds provided from the golf tournament.
One of the wells was placed inside a school yard in the village of Piedras Azules, Gulan, where over 200 students now have access to clean water throughout the day. It also supplies safe drinking water to the 1,000 other people living in the village. While we were there, Jacob, Rodney, and Dennis also distributed school supplies and soccer balls as gifts for the children at the school.
The second well was dedicated in the village of La Pedrera, a village of approximately 1,000 people who, prior to the well being installed, had to gather water from a polluted stream.
While in Guatemala, the Walmart team was able to see the full outreach of causelife’s national partner. They were able to participate in a feeding program at a landfill, play basketball with the children in the orphanage, tour the baby rescue center where severely malnourished children are nursed back to health, and witness firsthand the lives that are changed every day because of the outreach of Hope of Life International, our partner ministry in Guatemala.
In May, there will be two more golf tournaments—one in Memphis and the other in Nashville. It has been an honor for causelife to work with Walmart, their associates, and vendors to provide clean water for thousands of people in Guatemala—and we look forward to what will be accomplished together in the future!