Chicago, races and a heart for people in need are all part of Victoria Williams’ ministry vision: bringing new life and clean water to the people of Africa.
In the fall of 2016 Williams, a senior, mass communications major, participated in OBU’s Chicago Semester, which provided her the opportunity to work with a non-profit called Team World Vision. According to Williams, Team World Vision is an organization that started ten years ago with a man named Michael Chitwood. Chitwood had a heart for World Vision and wanted to run in races to raise money for them. World Vision ended up partnering with Chitwood, and Team World Vision was formed.
Team World Vision focuses on using races (marathons, 6Ks, etc.) as fundraisers for World Vision’s efforts to provide clean water for communities in need. Ten years later, they are now the number one non-governmental provider of clean water. The organization provides ways for not only runners, but children, families, churches and schools to get involved as well.
Each 6K runner pays $50 to run, which provides one person with clean water. “That money then goes to a community where it is used for different resources,” Williams said. “World Vision is a humanitarianism organization which means that they don’t send missionaries over, they have people in Kenya that they are paying and supporting. So not only is your money going towards clean water, but it’s supporting these places.”
Williams is very thankful for her time spent with Team World Vision during her semester in Chicago. “I always knew I wanted to go into non-profit work. I never really worked for one but I always just had a passion for things that give back,” she said.
Her work in Chicago gave her opportunities to raise awareness for the clean water issue in our world. “I got to be on the 6K team… I went to Denver, Colorado to a school to promote it and get the teachers to be host site leaders, and that just means that they would be the ones to take that on and have the event after school,” she said.
In her experience working with Team World Vision, Williams really learned what it was like to have a job working with professionals. According to Williams, she also learned, “Non-profit work isn’t always super fun. It’s hard, but I think getting to see the actual outcome of everything is going to make all of that worth it.”
Williams knew from the beginning that she wanted to work with a non-profit that served internationally. Team World Vision then reached out and she took the opportunity with hopes of traveling to Africa with them. Williams says, “In my prayer journal in Chicago, the first prayer I wrote was ‘God, make this an open door where I will be able to travel to Africa with this organization.’”
Now, almost 8 months later, that is exactly what Williams has the opportunity to do. Williams will be leaving to go to Africa with Team World Vision on May 31.
“I will first go to South Africa and I will help with the Comrades Race. It is the longest and biggest race in the world. It’s 56 miles and we have about 42 runners that are coming out and running with Team World Vision,” she said. Williams is excited to be able to encourage the runners at the Comrades Race and serve there.
In addition, Williams will also be going to Kenya, where she will get to meet the child that she sponsors through World Vision. “Her name’s Pamela; she’s five… I’ll also get to see the water projects that I had experience fundraising for,” Williams said.
Williams explains that the money that goes toward a sponsored child goes to that child’s entire community in order that the community would eventually become sustainable. “This is empowering people to not only survive but to learn and to know about Jesus and to do something that they’re passionate about,” Williams said.
Williams is excited to see the fruit of her service to the people of Africa first hand. “Not only am I getting to go to Africa, but I have a purpose. I helped raise the money for this clean water and I support this little girl and I’m getting to meet her and see the impact that I’m making,” she said.
Williams admits that before working with Team World Vision, she hadn’t thought about the clean water issue, and calls attention to fact that most people who live in the U.S. don’t think about clean water often, if ever. She shared shocking information about how real the clean water issue is. “The average distance a child has to walk is 3.72 miles… most of the time these kids are walking for dirty water,” Williams said. “Dirty water kills more than malaria and AIDS combined.”
“It starts with clean water. You can’t go to school if you don’t have clean water because you get sick. You can’t take care of your hygiene because you don’t have clean water, and you can’t learn if you can’t go to school,” Williams said. “That’s just such a simple thing that can be changed in our lifetime and that’s what Team World Vision is so passionate about.”
Williams is open to the idea of Team World Vision hiring her someday to spread the word about clean water to college students. “I am just really excited to have the opportunity to go and travel with them and to see the work that I’ve been a part of and if that leads to something more, that’s awesome,” she said. No matter what happens, Williams will always be a part of Team World Vision. “I’m passionate about it. I’m passionate about what they do, so if there’s any little thing I can do, I’ll be a part of it,” Williams said.
For now, Williams is trusting that the Lord has a great plan for her life. “I’m trying to be obedient and listen and whatever doors open, it’s going to be awesome. I can take those skills that I learned in whatever job I go to,” Williams said. “To know that your hard work is paying off and it’s changing lives, that’s what I want to be doing.”
By Camryn Reeves, staff writer