by Jennifer Ingram
A Whitworth club presented a new and innovative way to engage students by hosting the first ever Water Week. From April 12 to April 14, two organizations pooled their ideas and resources together to create three days of thought-provoking conversations about the limited clean water sources in third world countries.
Whitworth Kisima club, a club that raises money to build wells in Africa through Blood:Water Mission, along with Team Running Water, a Bloomsday team through Partners International, put on the event to raise awareness and funding for clean water around the world.
A Walk in Their Shoes was kicked off by mapping out a walkway from Pirates Cove to a water source in the Back 40. For three consecutive days, students were challenged to use only this water spigot as their resource for all their water needs.
Senior Julie Sullivan, Partners International intern, said she thought it would be an interactive way for students to become aware of the water supply needs in developing countries around the world.
“There are so many speakers that come to campus,” Sullivan said. “We wanted to create something different and interactive that would pull people’s curiosity and spark a new interest.”
As president of Team Running Water, Sullivan wanted to create an opportunity for students to experience the discomfort that some people experience every single day. When students get thirsty in the middle of the day and think how far they would need to walk to get a sip of water, it gives them an idea of all the other places in the world that don’t have easy access to safe drinking water, she said.
“It’s so neat to see,” Sullivan said. “We had over 50 people sign up, but even if 10 do it then it’s totally worth it to me.”
Whitworth’s Kisima club ended Water Week with a final hike to the Back 40 to fill water jugs, which participants then carried approximately two miles to the Hixson Union Building.
Kisima club president, Alison Gonzalez, said that the club wanted to work specifically with Blood:Water Mission to raise money toward purchasing a well in Eastern Africa.
She said the idea behind Water Week was to engage the community in critical thinking and meaningful experiences that would leave them with a desire to act further.
“The purpose of the walk is to experience the discomfort that people experience every day to get access to water,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes it’s not even clean water.”
Live music, free stickers and snacks were provided by Sodexo for participants to enjoy when they finished the Water Walk.
After the walk, Ross Carper, a junior high leader at First Presbyterian Church Spokane and a long-time supporter of Blood:Water Mission, shared about the importance of the organization. The organization, he said, believes in providing wells to help Africans help themselves.
“Blood:Water Mission believes Africans are solving African problems,” Carper said. “Americans aren’t doing that.”
Gonzalez said there are many social ties to the water issues in Eastern Africa.
“Working towards long-term goals is so beneficial,” Gonzalez said. “These projects are so crucial to the organizations and we just want to help.”
She said nearly 40 billion school hours are lost for young kids because the children are sent out with the women to find safe drinking water for their families. Searching can last all day.
“The Water Walk might only take a few hours but hopefully will leave you with an experience that will help you educate others about the issues in the world,” Gonzalez said.
The event was free, but donations were accepted to go toward the cause. Anyone who donated $15 received a Kisima water bottle, and the money was put directly into the clean water fund. All the proceeds were split between Partners International and Blood Water Mission.
“It is such an engaging activity for students,” Gonzalez said. “We wanted to do something creative that would have weight on the participants. They can have their own experiences and we hope it will be impactful on them.”
Contact Jennifer Ingram at firstname.lastname@example.org.