Imagine if you didn’t have a faucet in your home where you can get clear, clean drinking water anytime you want. You’d have to walk for water daily just to survive. That’s the reality for millions of people around the world every day.
In May, our family joined forces to form “Team H2GO”, a four-family fundraising team, who participated alongside hundreds of others in the 8th annual Walk for Water in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Walk for Water simulates the several mile journey to a pond, stream, well or other source of water that many people around the world make each day for a supply of clean water. 20 Liters, the nonprofit organization which hosted the Walk for Water, helps people who face a daily struggle accessing clean water turn their readily available dirty water into safe, clean water using large water filters. They also provide rainwater harvest systems in some of the communities they serve.
Several weeks before the Walk for Water, I shared a blog post about the event and why Team H2GO is passionate about helping people who do not have access to clean water. Today, I wanted to follow-up and share what an amazing experience we had, what we learned and how you can get involved.
Walk for Water 2014
When Team H2GO began our fundraising, we set a goal of raising $1,517 by 5/17 (the date of the walk). Once our campaign was underway, though, we were surprised and thrilled by the overflow of support from family and friends. Perhaps it helped, that one of our teammates agreed to wear a tutu during the walk if we met our goal?
As you can see from the photo, Team H2GO was successful! By the time we walked on May 17th, Team H2GO had actually raised $2,370 for 20 Liters. A donation as small as $20 can help one person have access to clean water for up to 10 years, so imagine how many more will be helped with the money we raised! The event, as a whole, raised $95,800.
During the Walk for Water, participants walked a loop path a few miles long. Considering we have several children on our team, we probably took longer than most to complete the loop. It didn’t help that our map-loving four year old needed to stop regularly to see where we were on large tourist maps throughout town. Thankfully, it wasn’t a race!
We started the walk by pushing strollers and carrying empty containers, like 2-Liter bottles and milk jugs. Some actually carried large yellow 20-Liter jerry cans, like many people around the world carry daily to collect water. Mid-way through the walk, we stopped alongside the Grand River, which runs right through the center of Grand Rapids and filled our empty containers with dirty river water.
Once the containers were full of water, the walk became considerably more challenging. Those who were strong and brave enough to carry the 20-Liter jerry cans were now lugging 44 pounds of water on their shoulders and backs.
All along the path of the Walk for Water we came across signs sharing facts and thought provoking questions about the issues facing people who do not have access to clean water.
Near the end of the route, there was an opportunity to stop and weigh the jugs of water we’d been carrying so we could see just how heavy our containers really were.
Once we completed the walk with our full containers of water, there was still more to come! 20 Liters had 5 different experiential stations set up around the park to help raise awareness about the cause. First, we could take our big jugs of water and pour them through one of the filters like people use in Rwanda.
Next, we could try sand sifting, which is how people in Rwanda prepare sand to use in filters provided by 20 Liters. To get the 20-25 lbs of quality dry sand needed for each filter, sediment, worm cysts and parasites need to be removed through the sifting process.
At the third station, we could try building a filter like one a Rwandan family would have in their home to create clean water for drinking, cooking and other uses.
The last two stations were dedicated to the water collection process. At one of them, we could try pushing a bike laden with full jerry cans up a hill so we could experience firsthand the hardship many people go through to bring water home to their families.
At the fifth and final station, we could strap large heavy sacks to ourselves using cloth to simulate baby wearing. Water collection is often done by women who not only must carry their full containers of water, but their babies too. If those babies are anything like mine, they’d also be crying, whining and squirming while their mommas are trying to balance water too. I’m not sure how they could simulate that!
Experiences like the Walk for Water are eye opening for families like ours who enjoy the privilege of clean water that readily pours out of our sinks any time, day or night.
How You Can Make a Difference
1. Donate to 20 Liters. Though Team H2GO’s fundraising campaign is over, 20 Liters needs support year-round. I would encourage you and your family to consider a generous donation to help this organization work with families to have the clean water they need for day-to-day survival. You can give online now.
2. Organize Your Own Walk for Water. 20 Liters has resources to help you organize a Walk for Water in your own community. Visit the 20 Liters website for more information.
Do you have a cause your family is passionate about? Or have you participated together in a walk, like this? Please comment below and share. We’d love to hear about your family’s experiences making a difference together.