While attending Mass around 30 years ago, Karen and Brian Prunty encountered a visiting priest who was working in Tanzania. At the time, the two of them had been considering where to give their tithe outside of the United States. They decided to send money to him periodically, praying over the envelope of money that would support the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales and Holy Cross Sisters overseas.
On that same weekend, their friends Mary and Steve Zimmerman encountered another priest at their parish, who discussed the possibility of helping support his missionary work in Tanzania. The Zimmermans traveled to Tanzania in 1994. Eventually, after a few years of supporting the work, their efforts formalized into a not-for-profit organization, which is now known as Living Waters International. Karen says that Mary Zimmerman, who has since passed away, was largely the inspiration behind Living Waters.
Living Waters International exists to collect funds for missionary and international development efforts in Africa, South America, and Asia. Their mission statement reads: “This mission arises from faith in Jesus Christ, the belief that He desires that the Gospel be shared with all people, and the belief that He calls each of us to do our part to alleviate human suffering among the poor and marginalized of this world.”
Steve recently spent time in some of the locations that have been supported through Living Waters. Over the last 30 years, he has visited parts of the areas in Africa they support.
“From Nov. 1, 2021, through March 20, 2022, I traveled in the African countries of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi,” he says. “I spent time with missionaries at their respective sites discussing with them projects that they were seeking support for.”
Their work includes a variety of programs, such as the formation of religious; tuition fees for students at Catholic schools; living expenses of religious; construction of school classrooms and student hostels; construction of churches; boreholes; solar systems; catechetical instruction, to include seminars and retreats in parishes; and food aid.
“There are some challenges to the emergence of the democratic political systems in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania,” Steve says.
The sites also have their current material needs in the areas they support.
“It’s about meeting basic needs of those living in abject poverty — food and water, proper housing — and education of all children, especially those living in the remote villages,” Steve says.
Since starting his service with Living Waters and from visiting the areas over the last three decades, Steve has seen a few significant differences in the support areas, such as an increase in the infrastructure of the missions in Africa, as well as a tremendous increase in the number of native African members of the religious orders that have been established by Indians in Africa.
To make a donation or to learn more about Living Waters International, please visit www.livingwatersinternational.org.