Event taps into world awareness: Millions must walk for their water

Colorado Mesa University students and other residents gather water bottles for an instructional walk. The 1-mile walk was designed to raise awareness that women and children in Third World countries have to walk to get their water each and every day.

Walking anywhere besides the kitchen or bathroom for a drink of water seems unfathomable when it just pours out with the simple twist of a tap.

However, by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas, according to the World Health Organization. Millions already are, including Rose, a Kenyan girl who Jennifer Stuckenschneider sponsored through the nonprofit Unbound (unbound.org).

Jennifer, 13, a ninth-grader at Colorado Connections Academy, and Rose began corresponding several years ago, and through those letters a Grand Junction girl learned that another girl in a different hemisphere had to walk a significant distance twice daily to get water for her family.

“That was her daily chore,” Jennifer explained, and it was the inspiration for Art for Rose, a fundraiser several years ago to raise money for a water pipe to Rose’s house in Kenya.

From that grew Walk for Water, a fundraiser that happened for the third time Saturday afternoon, in which community members donate $10 and walk a circuitous mile around the Colorado Mesa University campus while carrying at least a gallon of water.

Last year, Jennifer said, about 65 participants raised $1,000 for Unbound’s water access and distribution programs in developing nations, an amount she hoped to at least match this year. Saturday, about 50 participants hoisted gallon jugs — some carried several — and headed off across CMU’s winding sidewalks, a route that Jennifer had marked with blue balloons.

Raigen Manspeaker, an 11th-grader at Central High School, carried four gallons, which she said wasn’t too heavy.

“There are people who carry a lot more than that every day,” she said.

About 768 million people worldwide draw drinking water from unsafe sources, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund. However, even among those with access to safe drinking water — via wells, boreholes or public taps — hundreds of millions must travel some distance from their homes to access it.

According to WHO, the vast majority of people gathering that water are women and children, an act that takes time away from schoolwork and can actually jeopardize physical safety. Those are among the reasons, Jennifer said, for Walk for Water.

Megan Atkin, a CMU freshman and the first to finish Saturday’s mile walk, said she was glad to carry those two gallons and raise awareness for a good cause.


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