A New Kind of Race

by Louise | May 19th, 2009 | Walking

charity-waterThis past Sunday I participated in the Walk for Water in Nashua, New Hampshire. This race, unlike a typical 5k, involves a weight: a 40 pound, water-filled jerry can. To us, a jerry can is something that we might recognize as holding fuel. To thousands of people in Africa, a jerry can represents the container in which they lug five gallons of water from the nearest water station back to their home.  This journey often takes three hours, and some carry a full jerry can in each hand- that is, 80 pounds of water.

Walk for Water was created in order to raise funds that will go toward the creation of a well in an impoverished community. The creation of this well will not only eliminate the time-consuming and stressful journey to collect water, which is commonly made by women and children (who suffer by losing valuable time that could be spent in school), but also provide a source for clean water, which currently one in six people in the world do not have. The sign pictured states the fact, “4,500 children will die today from water-related diseases.”

I was part of a team of six members who shared the 40 pound yellow monstrosity in a walk up and down Main Street. (You may have seen a similar image in the public service announcement by Charity: Water that featured Jennifer Connelly.) Carrying it on my own without spilling water from its loose cap proved to be nearly impossible for intervals greater than 20 yards. After a very short time, most participants came to realize that it would have to be a group effort, and we shared the handle between two members. The walk was extremely strenuous, even though it was on all counts less difficult than the journey some people make each day. I walked a lesser distance, shared lesser weight, and walked with a cool breeze rather than a blazing sun. Nonetheless, it was an eye-opening experience.

I hope to see more walks like this one in the future. It not only raises funds and awareness for a good cause but allows participants to experience first-hand the ongoing struggles of thousands of people with which we are otherwise completely unassociated. In addition to that, it was a workout for my arms, which is unique for a race!

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