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"We SOMETIMES TAKE SNOW AND MELT IT ON THE STOVE"

 

Lindsey Johnson didn’t always live a life in water poverty. Shortly after she was born on the Navajo Reservation in the 1930s, Lindsey was fostered by a missionary family in Idaho. While living with her foster parents, she attended high school and picked up new friends and new hobbies.

In her late 20s, Lindsey returned to the Reservation to care for her dying mother. 

Moving back into a house without water and electricity shifted Lindsey's priorities dramatically, and she became responsible for ensuring her family's basic survival. Lindsey hauled water from a local livestock pond, but was so scared of the animals that she often trekked the longer distance to a distant neighbor's tap. 

Today, Lindsey lives with her daughter, son-in-law, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren in a two-bedroom trailer. Due to old age and extreme weather, she is no longer able to haul water for herself. Lindsey depends on Darlene for her monthly supply of water. But because the service well is so far from her home, Lindsey and her grandchildren are lucky to get 7 gallons of water each a day. 

Healthcare workers have urged Lindsey to move from her home and seek treatment in Gallup or Albuquerque. Lindsey refuses to move from the Reservation because, as she explains to us, she is a proud Navajo American woman who insists on remaining close to her roots. She still practices traditional beading, attends tribal ceremonies wearing a Pendleton blanket, and speaks Diné.

Lindsey's personality is ever-warm with a strong will to thrive and an even stronger connection to her history. 

Bring water and warmth to Lindsey and 250 other families with a gift to this project!

 
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"I WORK FOR MY PEOPLE BECAUSE I KNOW AND LOVE THEM"

If there is one person consistently dedicated to her family and community, it's Darlene.  Living with her sister and grandchildren, she's the primary provider for her family. Every morning, she wakes up before the sun rises to get her grandchildren ready for school, then she hops on a school bus herself and delivers hundreds of kids to their morning classes.

Darlene was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation and has dedicated the past 6 years of her life to ensuring that Navajo American families have clean water at home. 

Every morning - after her bus route - Darlene fills up her yellow water truck with 4000 gallons of clean water and heads off to homes within a 70 mile radius of the mission well. Many days, Darlene is only person to visit the Elders on her route in weeks. When she arrives at each of the 250 homes she serves in a month, she brings warmth and love, sharing a part of herself with every single person she serves.

Although she's the "water lady," Darlene goes out of her way to deliver food, lamp oil, firewood, news, and messages to make sure families are living as comfortably as possible. She has rich relationships with the entire community, nearly everyone calls her sister, cousin, or grandma. 

Back at home, Darlene makes sure she has dinner with her grandchildren before tucking them into bed. In her spare time, Darlene enjoys going to church with her sister, listening to gospel music, making jewelry, and texting friends. 

Help Darlene give water and warmth with a gift to this project!

 
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"that’s what Navajos do, [they] fight for [their] country"

Sonny, the “troublemaker” of his family, was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation. At the age of 16 his parents were tired of his rebellious behavior, so they gave him an ultimatum: live by their rules or move out. Sonny hitchhiked off the Reservation and into a nearby city.

By the age of 20 he had gotten his GED and gone to college. Soon after, he enlisted in the military because “that’s what Navajos do, [they] fight for [their] country”. While on active duty for 20 years, Sonny saw the world: visiting the Virgin Islands, Vietnam, Guyana, Iraq and Afghanistan. After completing his military service, Sonny settled in Virginia and started a family

Sonny was “pretty well-off”, living in a beautiful home with multiple cars. But he longed to move his family back to the Navajo Reservation. He was adamant that his children would grow up appreciating their Navajo heritage. Though an uncertain future on the Reservation meant giving up his comfortable life on the East Coast, Sonny was willing to risk it all. 

After moving back Sonny started volunteering at St. Bonaventure Indian Mission, where he now works full-time. He installs solar panels for homes without electricity on the reservation. Without a secure power source in their homes, many Navajo endure freezing nights, three seasons out of the year.

Sonny brings warmth into American homes in more ways than one. He's still the jokester of the community. Whatever he is doing or wherever he is, Sonny never ceases to make the people around him, friends or strangers, burst with laughter. When he isn’t welcoming visitors with stories of his crazy childhood and exotic travels, you can catch him hunting, line dancing, and sharing animal memes on Facebook.

Help Sonny give warmth and water by supporting this project!