Annual event making big improvements in lives of Zambian people
At the first Walk4Water five years ago, event organizers were thrilled when 100 walkers showed up and $6,000 was raised.
For the sixth time around, sights have been set much higher. On April 27, at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego, the target will be $60,000. Thats a reasonable goal considering that last years event raised $55,000, exceeding its goal by $5,000.
This year we have more corporate sponsors, including family sponsors, said Linda Favero, co-chairwoman of the walk. Today, three people said they would make a $15,000 challenge grant.
The annual walk raises awareness and funds for clean water, sanitation and hygiene in Zambia.
It is a big reason why WaterAfrica, the Lake Oswego-based parent organization, has been so successful in such a short time.
Favero said, Since 2005, WaterAfrica has raised close to $1 million. This has impacted 20,000 Zambians.
A key reason why Walk4Water has made such big strides is that event volunteers have been so successful in reaching out to young people. That is because it has enlisted volunteers capable of connecting with youths in Lake Oswego. This year there will be water carriers from Westside Christian, Riverdale High, Lake Oswego High, Lakeridge High, Lake Oswego Junior High and Lake Oswego elementary schools. Riverdale students have already raised $500 with a quarter drive, and they followed up with a soccer ball drive.
Sharron Reichle, who joined WaterAfrica last year, has been placed in charge of schools and community outreach. Its the perfect task for Reichle, who as a docent for the Portland Art Museum has a world class talent for explaining things.
I love talking to kids, said Reichle, herself the mother of two grade school-age girls. Once I talk to them they take their own initiative to do projects. You have 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds making that choice.
Reichle made her own choice to serve after meeting Favero for the first time.
She said, I met Linda on a trip by Medical Teams International, which had the theme of the lack of access to water. I found how this causes a myriad of problems.
Reichles interest was fanned further when she met WaterAfrica founders Bill and Diane Savage, who were clients of Reichles husband, David, an investment manager.
Bill and Diane were looking to expand this organization, Reichle said. Because I went to Zambia in July, I now have my own experience when I go into schools. Im also interested in girls getting education, and they cant get much education if they have to carry water all day.
When guests of WaterAfrica visit Zambia they can now view the fruits of the labors from the past few years. Wells have been dug, water is running and the lives of Zambians are improving. There has been a major turnaround since the early days. Zambian villages now must meet requirements before a borehole well is drilled. This assures that good sanitation and hygiene practices are in place, which multiplies the impact of clean water.
Walk4Water now makes for a colorful yearly spectacle in Lake Oswego with 400 walkers forming a long, curving line through Foothills Park to Millennium Plaza Park to scoop water from Oswego Lake, along with drumming, singing and refreshments. Everyone is invited to take part or watch, and Favero was pleased to note that many anonymous donors are now contacting the WaterAfrica website.
For details about Walk4Water, including advance registration and ways to donate, visit the website waterafrica.org. On April 27, registration starts at Foothills Park at 8:30 a.m., and the walk starts at 9 a.m.