For MSU senior Rebecca DeWitt, documentaries have much more meaning than watching Michael Moore criticize the government, more than a guy eating only McDonald’s for 30 days and, yes, even more than cute penguins narrated by Morgan Freeman.
[malawi]The journalism major recently left campus to go spend a month in Africa. I was able to talk to DeWitt before she flew off the continent. She said she is working as associate producer on a project called God’s Water, a 60-minute documentary following Tom Logan and his ecumenical humanitarian organization, Marion Medical Mission (MMM). They will travel through Malawi, located in southeastern Africa, to help the villagers there establish a sustainable and safe water source. Logan and the MMM, from Marion, Ill., will be working alongside Malawians digging and installing shallow wells.
Logan’s program to build shallow wells has resulted in a disappearance of cholera, which was once a major problem in every area a shallow well was built.
“Water is so essential to helping eradicate poverty within these developing nations,” DeWitt said. “It is something that we take for granted here in America. We can safely turn on our faucet and have a glass of water without needing to boil it, or use purifying tablets, and not running the risk of getting cholera if we don’t.”
DeWitt thinks the story of Logan and the MMM is very important in relation to current events. “It’s a bigger issue than anyone imagines and here is this organization that is doing something about it,” she said. “Not throwing money at them, which is often misplaced within the government hierarchy, but going there, getting their hands dirty right beside Africans, teaching them a skill so that when they leave, when the money leaves, the wells will still work, these Africans will still have clean water.”
“An action like that is what will start to stray America from the individualistic lifestyle we lead,” said hospitality business sophomore Elizabeth Wilson. “It’s important for people to break from their day to day schedules, which lets people start thinking on a realistic level and realize there’s more going on in the outside world other than America and oil and Iraq and your own personal success.”
This project will showcase people’s ability to come together for a common cause and show different cultures can work together. This is a good message to send now, especially because of the way the United States is viewed throughout the world, said DeWitt.
“In the big scheme, helping people has a much larger and more positive effect,” Wilson said, who agrees that the message of people working together is important. “I know this is all sounding idealistic.”
The documentary is being produced by Wild Rose Pictures of East Lansing, and is affiliated with the nonprofit organization Documentary Educational Resources (DER). Their goal is to make cost-efficient media messages while using the standards of “compassion, integrity and resourcefulness” in the pictures they make. They do work with documentaries along with working in promotion and Web site development.
Mark Ducker is the president of Wild Rose and has worked in many nations worldwide, including Bangladesh and India, as well as on many media projects throughout the United States.
DeWitt became involved through an internship she held last summer. “I saw a posting for a research/production assistant intern on SpartanTrak and applied for it. Then once I started working I was given my main project, God’s Water,” said DeWitt.
DeWitt and the Wild Rose crew left on September 24, interrupting DeWitt’s senior year at MSU. “When I was first initially presented with the option to go to Africa and film for a semester, I thought, yes of course! But then reality set in and I did struggle a bit with deciding,” she said. DeWitt still hopes to graduate from MSU in the spring, but admits that spending a semester in Africa will make this difficult.
But what’s a few more months of school when given the opportunity to travel to Africa, make a documentary that, who knows, could end up on the video shelves next to good ol’ Mike Moore.

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