Local teens recognized for water projects

By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post

Friendship Christian seniors Michael Smith and Dillon Bane have been selected as a part of “7 Days Across America” for their efforts in raising money and unique projects for Living Waters for the World, which deals with getting clean water to places that do not have access to it.

“7 Days Across America is a seven-day journey aimed at showcasing the good deeds of today’s youth,” said Andrew Baker, director of the Encouragement Foundation, which puts on 7 Days. “The current generation of teenagers has proven to be the most cause-oriented generation America has ever produced.

“However, through mainstream media and stereotypes, the news about teenagers is often, if not always, negative,” Baker said. “We would like to change this horrible misrepresentation of the young people who are trying to make our world a better place.”

Smith and Bane were originally nominated for their trek across the Appalachian Trail to raise money for Living Waters for the World. However, in talking about their fund raising, the foundation discovered the boys’ projects dealing with the water crisis.

The two teens attended a workshop at the University of Mississippi where they learned to make a water filtration system, drip irrigation system, as well as several leadership courses. Bane designed and built a water filtration system and implemented it in Honduras this past March when the FCS mission Bible class went there.

Smith built a drip irrigation system there to help the people grow crops. He also attended a class at Appalachian State University where he learned to make biodiesel out of used vegetable oil.

He then suggested the process to his contact in Honduras when he said they were running low on fuel, which was expensive. Smith plans to teach the people in Honduras how to make the cheap fuel that will run all of their vehicles when the mission class returns in March 2010.

“I’ve learned what teens can do with a little water and a little guidance,” said Greg Armstrong, science and Bible teacher at FCS and the boys’ fellow hiker. “God had a big hand in this.”

It was Armstrong’s dream to hike the Appalachian Trail that spurred this project. When the boys were freshmen, he mentioned his dream in class and they expressed interest in joining him.

“I encouraged them to make this hike mean something,” Armstrong said, “so I had them choose a charity to raise money for. They chose the water crisis and already raised enough money to dig a well in a remote village in Africa.”

The Appalachian Trail is 2,175 miles in total length and Armstrong said they hiked 33 miles without seeing any water at one point. This, Armstrong said, helped them understand what some people have to do in third world countries where they walk several miles there and back just to get clean water.

Baker and his crew are visiting 14 major cities from Sept. 5-12 to interview the 22 teams of teenagers and film them for their documentary called “What’s Right With the American Teenager.” Southwest Airlines will then fly all the teams to New York City where this event will commemorate the National Day of Encouragement on Saturday Sept. 12 and recognize all the teams. The event will also include the premiere of “One Drop,” a personal documentary created by Wishing Well: Water for the World, about the international water crisis.

People are encouraged to vote for the most encouraging team. During the premiere of “One Drop,” the votes will be counted and the winners will receive a $5,000 college scholarship. Visit www.7daysacrossamerica.com to vote for Michael Smith and Dillon Bane as well as other information about the Encouragement Foundation.

Staff Writer Ben Dudley may be contacted at ben@wilsonpost.com.