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Professor walks 30 miles to raise money for Burkina Faso well

| Monday, April 23, 2018

Michael Meyer, an associate professor in the Mendoza College of Business, completed his fourth 30-mile walk around campus yesterday in an effort to raise money to build a well in Burkina Faso.

In order to complete the 30-mile trek, Meyer planned a 1.5 mile route on campus that he lapped 20 times, stopping once for a carb-break. The walk began around 6 a.m. at Keenan Hall, and went until 4 p.m. Meyer said the 30 miles is symbolic of the distances that people of Burkina Faso walk each week to get clean water.

“I never want this to be about me, or for that matter Notre Dame,” Meyer said. “I always just focus on what’s happening in Burkina Faso. The kids and the mothers go out and get the water everyday, sometimes walking three to four miles everyday. When a village gets a well, suddenly the kids can go to school, the family can spend more time together and you really have an inflection point in the entire trajectory of that village.”

Meyer began doing this hike around campus after hearing a 12-year-old speak at his church five years ago about building a well in Burkina Faso. This inspired his three daughters to forgo birthday presents in order to donate to similar efforts. Meyer was motivated by his daughter’s kindness and began raising money the next year by doing a 30-mile walk.

“My wife and I both love this place, so we thought maybe we could do something from Notre Dame.” Meyer said “The first year, about four years ago I said in class, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll walk 30 miles and what I’d like is if some of you help collect money in the dorms, and we’ll be able to collect enough to build a well. It won’t be from me it’ll be from Notre Dame and we can change the direction of a village’s life forever.’”

Over the past four years Meyer has raised about $12,000 to build wells for villages in Burkina Faso. Each well costs about $2,000.

All the money that is raised by Meyer is donated to Engage Burkina, an organization whose goal is to bring clean water to Burkina Faso, where one in three children die before the age of 10, often due to contaminated water.

“Engage Burkina will build a church and then build a well next to the church.” Meyer said. “Even though perhaps not all the people in the village are Christian, they can go get water and be preached to, with the possibility of converting to Christianity, or at least listen to a message, and get water.”

Meyer works to get donations through a GoFundMe page, as well as enlisting student volunteers from his classes to go to their dorms to help raise awareness and money. Meyer said this year 87 of his 120 students volunteered to help.

“My students may not remember accounting, or anything I’ve ever taught them, but they might remember this.” Meyer said. “My view is, if you’re looking at the enormity of the problem — millions of people without clean water — what good is one well? It’s only going to help 500 people maybe. But I just want to communicate to my students, that just because you can’t solve the whole problem, doesn’t mean you can’t solve some of the problem.”

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