Girls’ favorite classes in West Fargo, ND, at Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo are social studies and the arts – she likes history and loves to draw. She was glad that face-to-face classes resumed this fall because she didn’t want to go to school online again this year.
But as she kept up with homework and middle school life this fall, Anderson became remarkable even to someone her age – a translated writer and philanthropist whose children’s book is now on the international market and far from West Fargo Difference.
It all started when she learned that Zambia needed clean drinking water.
A group of board members from Wellspring for the World, a nonprofit that raises money and funds projects to provide safe drinking water to people around the world, were also members of the local Hope Lutheran Church. They suggested that the church make an offer of fasting, and a group of 10 decided to travel to Zambia and see the work in action.
That group included Anderson’s father, Mark, who returned home and told his daughter about some of the things he saw there – and she was motivated to raise a “tiny bit” of money to help.
“Her comment was, ‘This is not fair. Every child should have water,'” he said.
Anderson decided to make and sell $ 50 worth of cookies to help these children. Those efforts resulted in cookie sales of nearly $ 5,000, and once the word of their story and mission got around the community, people wanted to do even more.
“I thought it would be just a little at first,” she said. “I’m really glad it turned into something bigger, but I didn’t expect it.”
Anderson also began making chitenge bags, which are tote bags made from African wax scraps in living patterns, and has sold more than 400 pieces to help further, according to her father.
But it is the book “Water Works” that she wrote and illustrated and that has the greatest influence in the world.
Since its release in June 2019, the book has sold more than 8,500 copies in America. In September 2019, the book was published in English for publication in Zambia, and more than 1,000 copies were distributed to Zambian schools.
Most recently, a newly translated version was published in Vietnam in autumn, which has already been sold more than 2,200 times.
Sawyer Anderson’s “Water Works” has been translated and is now on sale in Vietnam. Especially for the forum
In addition to the money raised from purchasing the book, agreements with other organizations including Wellspring and World Vision mean it has been raised and matched with funding to raise more than $ 750,000 to date. According to Mark, this money was used to build more than 50 wells and supply 15,000 people with water.
He said his daughter had given 96 lectures to district churches, service clubs, schools and companies on the book and the mission to provide safe drinking water to the area from the book’s publication to the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring.
Anderson said she had only written this one book so far and that she was not sure if she would write another one day. For now, all she can see is where “Water Works” is going as more people keep reading it.
“Water Works” has already sold more than 2,200 copies in Vietnam. Especially for the forum
She hasn’t been able to travel to Zambia to see how her efforts are helping the people there, although she said she could take a virtual tour with a virtual reality headset. But she will continue to do her part from West Fargo to help there, she said.
“I want to keep doing my water thing,” she said. “I want to keep helping people. All I know is that I want to keep helping people.”
While the pandemic continues and she can’t advertise her book as much as she’d like, Anderson said she’s been making more and more bags and lap blankets for sale – and she hopes others know they can help in their own way, too .
“I want everyone to know that everyone can make a difference,” she said. “If you try and if you want, it doesn’t have to be big – it can only be small – but I just encourage everyone to try to help.”
For more information or to purchase a copy of the book, visit waterworkssea.com.