Jennifer, 15, and her family have sponsored 11-year-old Rose from Kenya since 2012. After learning about the obstacles Rose, her family and many other families in poverty face to get water, Jennifer decided to raise funds and awareness to help. She created the Walk for Water event. Now in its fifth year, the event has grown from her involvement and that of her classmates at her school in Colorado to include the larger community. Jennifer wrote the following reflection about her experiences starting the event and how it has grown.
Walk for Water was started from a science fair project and my love for my sponsored child, Rose. But the walk took on a life of its own.
I was 10 and doing a science fair project in which I learned about all the amazing life forms that can be found in lake water. In my research, I found a video that showed how women and children walk for water every day.
Having seen a microscopic view of lake water, it took my breath away to think of anyone having to drink dirty water.
Worse was learning the consequences of the water crisis: Children can’t go to school, and children die every day.
My first thought was for Rose. I wrote Unbound and asked how Rose was getting her water. Then I wanted to know just what it was like to carry water. Putting a gallon milk jug full of water in my backpack, I walked around the block. A few curious friends came out to join me.
The reply email that came from Unbound said that Rose walked for water. I was also told that a pump could be piped to their house for a few hundred dollars. My dad wouldn’t let me mow lawns (I could barely reach the handle). All I could do was my art. So I had an art sale at my church, and I called it Art for Rose.
A letter from Rose’s family said that the water helped them because they didn’t have to go looking for water, and their family could now have a kitchen garden. In addition, it helped others in their community. I knew we had to do this for more people, and I wondered if I could get some friends to walk with me. The only place I could think of to walk was at my school, Holy Family School.
You know, when God wants something to happen, amazing things happen!
A community comes together
I had to wait until fall, but the first Walk for Water was held in September 2014. Holy Family School gave me a start; the students who wanted to participate came out and walked. One girl said, “Now I get it.”
Kids donated their own change to make a difference. Shirts were donated by a parishioner, and jugs of water were donated by the Knights of Columbus. From the beginning, Walk for Water has been an example of a community coming together. That first year we raised $3,200, and 32 water tanks were built by Unbound in Honduras.
Since 2015, Walk for Water has been sponsored by Mesa Catholic and was held at Colorado Mesa University. Posters were donated and local businesses helped by sponsoring and donating prizes. I contacted other people who did walks for water to see how they ran their walks. With the help of this community, we raised almost another $5,000 that has gone to Unbound in Kampala, Uganda, for latrines.
So far, more than $8,000 has been raised. Clean water storage for 32 homes has been created in Honduras, and latrines for 30 families have been built in Uganda.
This is Walk for Water’s fifth year. There will be two walks, one at CMU on September 15 and one at Holy Family School on September 22. This year, the funds will go to Unbound in Antsirabe, Madagascar, to provide clean water where no one has any.
How long Walk for Water lasts is up to God and this community. We walk because it is what Jesus wants us to do, and as long as it is supposed to happen, it will.
Want to spread the word about Unbound? Visit unbound.org/conversation to learn more about advocacy opportunities.