- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) - Holly White mourned for a year after her husband died from a severe head injury.

She would often close the door at her job as a Currituck County planner and sob at her desk.

“There were times when I couldn’t do it and I would cry,” said White, 33. “There were days I could laugh.”

Before her husband, Charlie, died, he’d been planning to build a well in Africa.

White decided one day to channel her heartache into realizing his dream.

“I found a peace beyond understanding,” she said. “I can’t explain how I made it through that period of my life. I did not want the loss of his life to be in vain. I prayed to God to give it purpose.”

Holly leaves Friday for Tawa, Kenya, to see a well dug there from money she helped raise. The villagers have to walk miles to the nearest well or river. Schoolgirls often miss class to fetch water.

Less than half the people in many African nations have access to clean water, according to the World Health Organization. Faith-based groups, nonprofits and others offer avenues for people to raise money for wells.

White connected with the organizations of Living Water International, With This Ring and World Servants to raise $7,500 toward the $52,000 cost of digging the well. She raised another $2,300 to pay for her trip there.

She calls it Charlie’s well, and it’s part of her recovery from the summer of 2010, when he died and she suffered other losses.

That June, her husband’s grandmother died. Then, White’s father died the day of the funeral for Charlie’s grandmother. White’s grandmother died less than two weeks after that, on July 9.

The following day, the Whites left for a mission trip with their church to Ecuador.

The couple - married for six years - grew stronger in their faith and began to heal from their losses, White said. It was there that Charlie said he wanted to be part of digging a well in Africa.

On a hot August evening almost four years ago, Charlie walked out of the house with his dog, Guinness.

Charlie often rode through the neighborhood on a skateboard pulled by the boxer mix. White had cooked fried okra from her father’s garden for supper, and the smell lingered in the house.

Minutes later, a neighbor knocked on her door. Charlie had fallen from the skateboard and hit his head on the pavement. He died two days later.

“I remember saying, ‘Please don’t do this to me,’ ” White said. “He was the only guy I ever had a serious relationship with.”

She still feels emotional when she smells fried okra or hears “Awakening,” a contemporary Christian song that was one of Charlie’s favorites.

What helps her in those moments is looking forward to living with the people of Tawa and seeing Charlie’s dream fulfilled.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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