On March 21, individuals and families across Charleston took hundreds of thousands of steps during the virtual Walk for Water so that people around the world, mostly women and children, don’t have to walk miles for water.
Amid COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, our annual Walk for Water took place as a virtual event, calling on participants to walk in their neighborhoods – at a safe distance from others. They walked in solidarity with the 2,100,000,000 people around the world who do not have access to safe water.
Using the hashtag #2020VirtualWalkCHS, folks who stepped up to the challenge posted their photos on social media to create awareness and invite others into the mission!
Families, children, and dogs hit the sidewalk on Saturday, simulating the trek that women and children across the world must make to collect water. Often, the water these women and children collect is unsafe for consumption, causing waterborne and water-related illnesses such as cholera and trachoma.
“My squad walked this morning so our brothers and sisters around the world won’t have to!” shared JD Meeder, Water Mission’s regional director of partnerships.
To prepare for the virtual event, Walkers received a toolkit that included facts that reminded them of the significance of their support:
Water Mission has served more than 5 million people with safe water.
Reducing the time it takes to collect water increases school attendance among girls by 12%.
In 19 years, Water Mission has responded to 40+ natural and humanitarian crises.
The toolkit also included stories about people like Jaina, a mother and community advocate for safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in Tanzania. Safe water solutions have freed her and her family from strenuous walks to contaminated water sources. These solutions have also freed them from waterborne illnesses. Since Water Mission built safe water systems in Jaina’s community, she now has time for other responsibilities. She teaches her children and community about healthy WASH practices, such as handwashing: a critical preventive measure against diseases like COVID-19.
Looking through #2020VirtualWalkCHS posts, our readers inspired us with their very own words. They echoed the heart behind our mission:
“Washing your hands to fight against disease and infection is a luxury millions around the world don’t have,” said Lisa, Walk for Water participant. “We are honored to commemorate their daily walk to bring awareness to their need for [safe] water.”
Participant Ashley explained, “I have washed my hands 20 to 30 times a day with an infant amidst this scary virus. [The COVID-19 pandemic] is making me so grateful for the ability to simply turn a faucet on. And, it is reminding me of the fears people around the world deal with daily because of lack of access to clean water.”
Although this year’s Walk was unique, Saturday became a celebration of our Charleston community’s faithful support. Though physically distanced from one another, participants walked in stride with men, women, and children living in rural communities, disaster areas, and refugee settings around the world. In step, we paved the way for hundreds of thousands more to have access to a basic human right: clean, safe water.
Thank you for walking with us!