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'Walk with Water' helps African community

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 1:21 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – Tanzania Development Support, a nonprofit organization based in DeKalb, is sponsoring Walk With Water fundraising events to help local residents empathize with the hardships faced by people in countries where water is in short supply.

Water is so plentiful in the United States that little thought is given to how critically important it is to life. In other countries the scarcity of water forces inhabitants to spend an entire day, every day, walking miles to locate water. This task is typically assigned to children, most often girls, who walk for water instead of going to school.

Volunteers with Tanzania Development Support have traveled to Nyegina, Tanzania, where they’ve seen girls walking along the roadside carrying their yellow containers, called Jerry cans, on their way to and from a waterhole. The containers are large enough to hold 4 or 5 gallons. Once the containers are full, the girls may balance them on their heads or strap them to their backs to carry them home. The water is often dirty and contaminated with bacteria, but it’s all that is available. In addition, the girls walk over rough terrain and may be barefoot.

The first Walk With Water event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 4, in the MLK commons on the campus of Northern Illinois University. Though it is meant to replicate the hardship undertaken by Tanzanian girls, walkers in this event will carry clean water, walk on flat terrain and wear shoes. Participants are asked to complete as many laps as possible while carrying up to 5 gallons of water. This event is a way for individuals and teams to raise money for TDS by asking sponsors to donate based on the number of laps completed. Additional information and application forms are available on the TDS website at www.tdsnfp.org.

TDS actively works to empower men, women, and children in Tanzania to lift themselves out of poverty through education, training and community development. Since 2008, TDS has raised funds to construct a dormitory and furnish bunk beds for 160 girls attending the Nyegina Secondary School. Its new project, the construction of the Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center, is set to kick off in spring/summer 2013. The proceeds from the waterwalk events will help fund this construction project.

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