Student art at local gallery to raise funds for Maasai well

Union College student art will be on display in the Noyes Art Gallery, 119 S. 9th St., on Wednesday, November 30, to benefit Cassie Fitzpatrick's Not "Oh Well" project to build a well for the Maasai people of Africa.

Many find it all to easy to get stuck in the daily grind and not be moved by the plight of others, thinking, Oh well, some else will do it. But Cassie Fitzpatrick and a group of her classmates and teachers have decided "Not Oh Well" is a far more appropriate response.

On November 30, the Union College Design 1 Class will display a variety of art at the Noyes Gallery in downtown Lincoln to raise funds for Fitzpatrick's Not "Oh Well" project to build a well for a Maasai tribe in Kenya. 

The seed for the project was first planted when Fitzpatrick, now a senior communication major, took a year off in the midst of her undergraduate studies to teach at Maxwell Adventist Academy in Nairobi, Kenya.

“Missionary work has always interested me,” said Fitzpatrick. “I spent the year as an elementary school teacher and it was an amazing experience.”

The true adventure awaited her during Christmas break. Fitzpatrick spent a week with the Maasai tribe—a semi-nomadic group living primarily in Kenya and Tanzania. While there, Fitzpatrick learned the basics of their language and how to make food. This single break spent with the Maasai changed her life.

“I remember the feeling when all my friends dropped me off and drove away,” recalled Fitzpatrick. “Initially I was scared, but it was such an awesome experience. The one thing that really stuck with me is their hospitality.”

Back at Union, Fitzpatrick soon slipped back into the day-to-day routine of school. Although she was quick to share what she learned while in Kenya, the stress of college life helped her resist God's call to help the people she grown to love in so short a time. 

“This past summer I reached my breaking point,” Fitzpatrick said. “I finally listened to what God had been trying to tell me and dropped everything else.” 

The Not "Oh Well" (NOW) project was first publicly unveiled at the annual Golden Cords student missionary vespers on September 30. Fitzpatrick plans to drill a well for the Maasai tribe in an effort to ease the strain of the current drought. The drilling process will likely take four months and cost nearly $1 million.

Since its inception, God has used NOW to shift perspectives of purpose for those involved in the planning process. “The group meets weekly and is up to 14 people,” said Fitzpatrick. “The meetings started out small but have remained consistent in attendance and growth.”

Julia Noyes, an adjunct art teacher at Union, caught wind of Fitzpatrick’s plans while asking for prayer requests during a design class. Noyes, who constantly challenges students to harness their true potential, did not hesitate to get involved by volunteering her gallery, co-operated by 24 Lincoln artists, for the student show on November 30.

The Not "Oh Well" art show will take place at the Noyes Gallery, located at 119 S. 9th Street, from 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. All proceeds from purchased art will go to the Not "Oh Well" project.

Fitzpatrick encourages everyone to get involved, even if they can't come to the show. “The well will cost $1 million, so monetary gifts of all sizes are welcome.”

Money is not the only gift needed. NOW needs a web designer and a business operations manager. Plans for a bike ride the length of Kenya (1,100 miles) are also in the works.

“I believe young adults need to have a purpose through the church,” Fitzpatrick said. “God is using this project to help us realize there is more to life than the routine.”

Those interested in the show or the Not "Oh Well" project can contact Fitzpatrick at notohwell [at] gmail [dot] com or check out the Not "Oh Well" fan page on Facebook.

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