Alumni Take Marist's Mission of Service to Southeast Asia
Goal is to raise awareness, funds to promote clean drinking water
According to the World Health Organization, 600 million people lack access to clean potable water, and there are more than 800,000 deaths a year due to easily preventable waterborne diseases. So, in the spring of 2017, Mike Duffy ’15 and John Herman ’15 set out to do something about it.
The pair devised an ambitious course of action: complete 15 Ironman Triathlons through Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam to raise awareness about the world’s water crisis. They also had another goal in mind: to raise enough money to build 35 sustainable fresh water wells in the African nation of Malawi and to provide 100 BioSand filters to families and schools in Cambodia. While in Cambodia, both had an opportunity to volunteer at the Marist Brothers School for Handicapped Street Children, located just outside Phnom Penh. Mike and John were deeply touched by the hospitality of the people they met along the way; they also faced a number of challenges, including being stung by Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish while completing the miles needed for the Triathlons. Near the end of their trip, they were joined by their friend Landon Moore ’16, currently a graduate student at Yale Divinity School.
John and Mike, who are originally from Long Island and New Jersey, respectively, published a blog during their months abroad and called it “JourneyForWater.com.” John had this to say about his motivation for making the trip: “For just about as long as I can remember, I’ve had a nagging feeling that I was put on this earth to help others, and for just about as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing everything I can to suppress that feeling. I did everything I could to lead the ‘normal’ life that was expected of me and didn’t do much to disrupt the status quo. After a couple of years of feeling incredibly dissatisfied with the work I was doing, I finally reached a breaking point, and realized I had to do something more. The timing could not have been better, as this coincided with my good friend Michael Duffy preparing this trip, and it only further solidified in my mind that this was God’s plan for me all along.”
Likewise, Mike reported that, “aside from my family, the greatest impact and most positive influence in my life has been the Marist Brothers and my time at Marist College. Above all, their values of community, a life of simplicity, dedication to service, and a passionate love for the poor have transformed the way of my life. The Marist Brothers have unconditionally offered their time, energy, and resources to provide guidance in my life and direction for my heart. I thank the Brothers and the unbelievable Marist community for the opportunities I have been blessed with to allow me to develop into the person I am today.” Both John and Mike single out Marist Brothers Sean Sammon, Frank Kelly, and Michael Flanigan for the profound impact they have had on their lives.
Today, John works at the Boston Beer Company, and Mike is a CPA with a business psychology organization called Mind Gym. To date, they have raised nearly $18,000 to promote clean water. You can learn more about the details of their pilgrimage and ways in which you can support their efforts at www.journeyforwater.com.
Mike Duffy John Herman