By , July 26, 2002

As the afternoon sun continued to parch the high desert floor and the westerly winds blew sand in the faces of volunteer workers, a small group of men were discussing the existing drought conditions on the Navajo reservation. During the discussion, it was discovered that the Navajo people were suffering from an extreme draught. With little or no snow during the winter months, very little rain during the previous fall and no rain in the forecast for the spring, the lives of many Navajo people hung in the balance.
A warning was issued that all livestock were in danger due to the lack of water. Families were encouraged to sell their cattle, sheep, horses and domestic animals. The extent of the draught was being felt throughout the entire region. Riverbeds were dried up and cracking, streams that once had plenty of water flowing were only trickling with water. Everything appeared parched, burned and dry.

The statistical information illustrating how desperate many Navajo families are for water was staggering. There are twenty-two thousand senior adults living without fresh water; most of them have to travel more than thirty miles to the nearest fresh water. The elderly and children alike are getting water from places normally reserved for animals. The need is so great.

However, there was a plan. Operation Compassion had projected a five-year plan for the First American Dream Center that included providing water to those in need on the reservation. As the discussion continued that hot day, a challenge was given as to the cost of starting a water program. Without hesitation, $50,000 was given to Operation Compassion for the start-up costs. Oasis in the Desert was funded!

Within the next few weeks, a 6,000-gallon milk tanker was purchased. The owner, Wayne Kersey, of K & W Trucking, LLC, sold the tanker to Operation Compassion at a greatly reduced price. Since the tanker has been purchased other doors have opened to allow this program to fulfill its mission. A beverage producer has given 60-gallon barrels as water containers at individual homes. Five-gallon pales have been given to use to keep the barrels topped off. Pastor Larry Bidwell and his Owensboro, KY church is raising funds, along with other Kentucky pastors, to purchase the first 3,000-gallon holding tank. Final arrangements are being made for the other 3,000-gallon holding tanks that will be used at strategic locations on the reservation.

Within six weeks, Operation Compassion’s Oasis in the Desert went from a five-year plan to reality. Final negotiations will soon be completed for the actual acquisition of water that will be delivered to the Navajo reservation. By the middle of September, Oasis in the Desert should be operational and making a profound impact on the lives of the Navajo people.

Anyone interested in supporting financially, donating products or providing a corporate lead may contact:

Operation Compassion
Dr. John D. Nichols, President
David Lorency, International Field Director
Tim Burdashaw, Communications & Development

114 Stuart Road, NE Suite 370
Cleveland, TN 37312
423.728.3932 Office
423.728.3958 Fax

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