For the first half of the 1990s, the African country of Rwanda went through a brutal civil war and genocide and it’s people are still recovering. And one of the biggest battles the country’s people deal with on a daily basis is finding clean drinking water, according to Ben Hayle.
In an attempt to reach out and help, Richfield’s is asking people to “Grab a Bucket, Save a Life” during its second annual Walk 4 Water event Sunday, Sept. 23 at .
“Everyday in Rwanda, there are kids and young girls and women who are walking [long distances] two, three, four times a day to get to drinking water and when they get there, it may not even be clean,” Hayle, a church member and event organizer, told Richfield Patch.
To pay tribute to that hard work, participants will take a bucket full of water with them on the one-mile walk around the park.
Hayle said the congregation was inspired to do the fundraiser after many read the book, “A Hole in our Gospel.” He said the message of the book was to do something to better your community and abroad. Coincidently, the church was already supporting the organization Water For Life Africa, which was started by church member Nick Greener. Greener and his wife, Jen Greener, and their two children have been living in Rwanda the last four years.
“Throughout Africa there is this cycle of poverty because the kids are uneducated,” Hayle said. “Education is really key to breaking that cycle.”
In an attempt to combine the importance of education and satisfy the need of clean drinking water, Hayle said Nick Greener and his team of Rwandan workers build simple, easy to maintain water filtration systems and wells in and near schools.
“It keeps kids going to school,” Hayle said. “And they have safe drinking water while they’re there and then they can bring some home.”
“By combining formal instruction with hands-on training we teach people how to construct and maintain their own local water resources,” the Water For Life Africa website says. “Our focus is not simply to provide safe drinking to those in need—our goal is to help people gain the knowledge and experience they need to help themselves and their communities.”
Hayle said the church hopes to raise $18,000 to help with the water projects. Last year’s event raised just over $17,000.
Event organizers are asking that each family make a minimum $15 donation to participate.
"While there are different numbers out there, on average it costs about $15 to provide a safe source of drinking water for one person," Hayle said. “So, we’re asking people not to think of it as a dollar amount, but as a person amount."
Registration will begin at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 23. Following registration, a short conversation via the Internet will be broadcast at 12:30 p.m. The one-mile walk will begin after that and be followed by a picnic. The first 300 participants will receive a water bottle and backpack.
To pre-register for the event, go to hope-pc.org or by calling 612-866-4055. Again, the church is asking for a minimum $15 per family.
To learn more about the Greeners’ work in Rwanda, go to waterforlifeafrica.org.