Multi-platinum, Grammy and Dove Award-winning band Jars of Clay performed for students, faculty and staff and spoke about their passion for Blood:Water Mission during opening chapel on Wednesday in Neely Dining Hall.
In 2004, Jars of Clay founded Blood:Water Mission, a grassroots organization that empowers communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. They have recently started a partnership with Belmont’s Living a Better Story initiative, allowing students to be part of their work with leaders in 1,300 communities in 11 African countries providing life-saving water and HIV/AIDs-focused health care for over 800,000 people.
“You find these places where you want more out of the world; you want love and peace,” said Jars of Clay lead singer Dan Haseltine. “We are glad to be a part of that with Blood:Water Mission.”
Living a Better Story is part of Belmont’s Sophomore Year Experience, known to students as Growth & Purpose for Students (GPS), a program intended to encourage students to engage in focused exploration of themselves and their places in the world.
Living a Better Story’s partnership with Blood:Water Mission gives sophomore students the opportunity to work within their residence halls to partner with a specific project supporting HIV/AIDS and water projects across Africa. These projects include providing water, sanitation and hygiene in the desert of northern Kenya; equipping teachers, religious leaders and community health workers with training in water, sanitation and hygiene; drilling and rehabilitation of wells; installing biosand filters; and expanding HIV/AIDS services to the peri-urban region of Suki.
Each student is given $10 cash. Those students then leverage that $10 into something more valuable whether that is a larger monetary donation or a means to raise awareness about the project itself. Suggestions are given on how to utilize the money, but ultimately it is up to the students on how to put the money to use. In addition to this program, Blood:Water Mission has made space for five students to travel to Zambia this summer to see Blood:Water’s work firsthand. The application process for this trip begins next week.
“We wanted a way to unite students behind a particular cause. We have faith in the work Blood:Water Mission is doing, and we’re glad to be a part of their efforts,” said Director of the Sophomore Year Experience David Sneed. “They have been very welcoming and hospitable to our students.”
Both Sneed and University Ministries Director of Outreach Micah Weedman explained that Blood:Water Mission is a perfect fit for Belmont because of the connections between faith, service, music and the University mission to engage and transform the world.
“They have an amazing sensibility between artists and their efforts both in the industry and in service. They understand the music industry and the concerns of Belmont students,” Weedman said.
“I think what’s exciting about this program is that it takes Belmont students and gives them the opportunity to use their talents to think imaginatively and creatively in order to make a difference in the world,” Weedman continued. “It allows them to find God’s purpose in the world while still maintaining their identity as artists, entrepreneurs and students.”