Being able to connect a single household on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to the main water service line is rewarding enough for us at Running Strong for American Indian Youth, but being able to connect seven families with one project is awesome.

Destiny, of Kyle, South Dakota, and her family of five, which includes three children ages 6 to 16, had been without water for more than six months after the family’s well stopped working and was unable to be repaired.

During that time, she had to go two miles to a friends house to fetch all the water they needed for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing on a daily basis.

She reached out for assistance to our water coordinator on the reservation, Ken Lone Elk, and when he looked at her property, he saw a huge opportunity to help not just her, but also six of her neighbors living in close proximity to her home in the near future.

Our Oglala Lakota contractor, Sam O’Rourke of Badlands Enterprises, and his crew were out late last month installing 2,500 feet of a 2-inch main water line to serve the future home installations as soon as their applications are processed.

Sam explained that like Destiny’s, the six other homesites are using unreliable well water and this month they are all expected to be connected to the main water service line which runs through the reservation.

“It was a great development to serve so many other homes,” commented Sam.

Thanks to the supporters of our Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) project, some 50 Native children, adults and elders will soon have all the water they need for the years and decades to come.

Being able to serve so many families with one project is simply the icing on the cake, and we will be searching for more such opportunities to best utilize our funds and resources in the future.

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