What does a food writer do when Valentine's Day, a day of romance and indulgence (and chocolate), coincides with Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian Lenten season of fasting and repentance (and no chocolate)?

Valentine's Day is a celebration of love and lovers, and the season of Lent is a call to Christians to embrace the love that is spoken through the Gospel. Love makes the world go 'round, and it is as essential to life as water. What better way to celebrate love than by sharing our favorite recipe for water?

In its most basic form, the traditional recipe for water is a molecular formula consisting of one part oxygen to two parts hydrogen. We learn this at an early age and then go about our lives without ever having to think, or worry, about where our water comes from. We drink water straight from the tap and bathe ourselves and our loved ones in the safe, clean water that flows easily into our homes. For us, water is H2O and water is everywhere.

But what happens when water isn't clean or easily accessible, when the basic formula of H2O isn't enough? That's when it's time to modify the recipe with the simple addition of a few key ingredients: love, generosity and friendship. This is the recipe that will help ensure success at the upcoming Wine to Water friend-raising event on Thursday, March 1, hosted by Wellspring for the World.

Over the past year, I've become involved with Wellspring for the World, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to bring clean water to the people of the world. We partner with World Vision to fund water projects in 10 African nations where the need is the greatest, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.

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Last summer, a group of local folks traveled to Zambia on a Vision Trip under the auspices of Wellspring for the World and World Vision, to witness how the gift of clean water can transform a community and change its course, forever.

They visited Kabuta Village, a community that had no access to clean water, where women and children walk, several times a day, carrying buckets to collect water from a source that was also shared by animals. This dirty water is used for all their daily needs, for everything including washing their laundry, cooking their food, bathing their children and hydrating their bodies. Life in these remote areas is filled with stories of struggle and hardship, and children are often the victims of a dangerous animal attack or waterborne disease.

This village was preparing for the arrival of a well this April, which will be delivered in the form of a borehole fitted with a hand pump to ensure that there is not an open source for contamination. Basic hygiene practices that include the installation of a ventilated latrine, a tipi-tap for washing hands, an elevated dish rack, a private bathing shelter and a refuse pit are required by World Vision before a well can be installed, and they are essential to improving the health and sanitation practices of the village.

Next, our Vision Trip travelers visited a village where a borehole had recently been installed, and they were able to witness the transformation that occurs when clean water is flowing freely. Greeted by villagers waving branches and shouting praise, the atmosphere here was palpably different from the previous visit. Joy and gratitude abounded as they celebrated through prayer, song and dance, the arrival of life-giving water.

In Africa, they have a saying that Water is Life. On this Valentine's Ash Wednesday, we invite you to join us at Wine to Water on March 1 to learn more about how you can help bring water, life and love to those most in need.

For more information, please visit us online at wellspringfortheworld.com.

If You Go

What: Wine to Water friend/fundraising event to benefit Wellspring for the World

When: 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 1

Where: Fargo Air Museum, 1609 19th Ave. N.

Cost: $25 per person

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"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 13-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.