ABA Banking Journal - May 2014 - (Page 44)
Where pure water is pure gold
Maryland bank director brings safe drinking water to Africa
Clear, cold, clean water-you'll be craving a
glass of it before you finish this article.
Imagine walking five or more miles a day
to a crocodile-infested river or a stinking,
scummy pond to get your daily water for
everything from drinking to washing. Imagine
that water potentially killing your children, or
leaving them or you blind from disease. That
is what faces many people in rural Africa.
Now, imagine that pure flowing water
could be had-if you could sink a well 30
feet. Bank director Ken Wood has been personally helping to bring that about in Ghana
and, more recently, in Tanzania.
Wood has been a water-well driller in
Well driller Ken Wood (in blue shirt) has helped bring pure water to so many
Maryland and Delaware for decades, running
Ghanaians that he was ceremoniously named "Chief Living Water."
a family business and sinking thousands of
estate he owned, and he channeled
wells. In 2006, his Lifetime Well Drilling, Denton, Md., had an old truck-mountfunds to the project from winnings of
ed drill rig to sell. A Pennsylvania-based charity wanted to buy it to drill water
harness horses he owned.
wells for areas in Ghana where it did missionary work. Wood decided to simply
Wood has borrowed for some purdonate it.
chases, and he also accepts donaBut that wasn't the end of the story. Actually it was just the beginning.
tions, which have chiefly come from
The charity came back to Wood and asked if he could come to Africa to show
Provident State Bank and his fellow
Ghanaians how to work the rig. He wasn't so keen on that, says Wood. He was
Wood has no regrets about what
But two weeks later, Wood, who serves on the board of Provident State Bank,
he's sold and what he's spent. "Once
Preston, Md., attended the Maryland Bankers Association annual convention.
you get over there and see the devAn inspirational guest speaker from Ghana spoke of his life back in Africa and
astation, and what life there is really
told how precious water was to his people. It changed Wood's mind.
like, having things will not make you
"When God rings the phone, you'd better pick up," says Wood. He went to
happy," he says. Over time, he intends
Ghana for what would be the beginning of a series of water drilling trips. Today,
to have every grandchild over there at
he and other members of his family and friends travel to Ghana or Tanzania four
least once to witness what he's seen,
times a year. Wood's efforts have resulted in 1,130 water wells thus far.
"so they see how good they have it."
Wood's first trip ultimately involved his donating not only the original truck
For himself, in spite of being 70,
rig, but additional vehicles, equipment, and boring supplies. That first exposure
Wood intends to keep at it, drilling as
showed him just how much suffering bad water caused.
well as training the natives to operate
Wood's commitment to African wells has grown from that beginning. All the
drilling equipment, piping, storage tanks, and hand pumps that keep the water
"I'm going," maintains Wood,
flowing come from Wood's operation. Government officials organize village
"until I croak."
water committees, typically comprising local women, who supervise the well and
-Steve Cocheo, executive editor and
pool funds toward pump repairs.
digital content manager
But Wood has personally borne much of the cost of producing the wells in the
Learn more about Wood's projects
first place. As this became a personal mission, he sold a vintage Thunderbird
that had originally been meant as the beginning of a car collection. He sold real
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Doing well by doing good
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ABA Banking Journal - May 2014