A Charlotte nonprofit is fighting the world's water crisis one well at a time after one man's trip to Africa.
Patrick Mitchell was born and raised in Charlotte. After taking a trip to Africa, he went from pastor to nonprofit founder with a mission of providing clean water to the whole world.
"We work in sub-Saharan Africa and only work through African leaders who are fighting the problem in their own communities," Mitchell told Sarah French.
Mitchell says he’s always had a heart for Africa.
"I was 20-something years old before I learned that dirty water is the biggest killer in the world," Mitchell said. "I knew I would never be able to do something else and be happy other than somehow address these problems."
That’s when Mitchell began to dream about starting a nonprofit. He called it Renown Collective.
"Renown Collective was always the dream," Mitchell said, showing the nonprofit's logo and explaining the origin.
The spokes represent the organization’s focus on solutions for the different issues Africa faces.
To fight disease, they help build water wells. To overcome illiteracy, they pay for scholarships. And to support health care, they construct much-needed facilities.
"We built our first hospital," Mitchell explained. "And this is the first hospital, that's ever been in this region or Malawi, which is really exciting."
But at the heart of it all is clean water.
"About every 90 seconds in places like in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, someone's dying because of dirty water," Mitchell said. "Clean water is the first step that changes everything. Every dollar invested in clean water in rural Africa yields seven for the local economy. Girls get to go to school because girls spend about four hours a day walking for water to bring back to their home."
Mitchell says Renown Collective has successfully completed 80 clean water projects. They let the community decide if that’s a protected spring or rain catchment, but most often the people ask for a water well.
"Right now, the US dollar in Malawi is about 1,200 to one. So the amount of good that we can do people, a lot of times people feel like, 'oh, I've only got $20 to donate, I have so little,'" Mitchell said. "That can go incredibly far in places like where we're working. We want to connect people in Charlotte, in the U.S., to being a solution to that problem."
Mitchell says the people of Africa are his heroes and inspiration. And while he knows he’s helping to pull them up, the work lifts him up even more.
"It fulfills some sense of purpose I think that we probably all have in our hearts and our souls, like something we're meant to be a part of that's bigger than ourselves," Mitchell said.
He also said they hope to reach more than 120 completed water projects by the end of 2023. If you would like more information on how to help, click here.