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raises funds, empathy for Africans

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 10:54 a.m. CDT

DeKALB - Tanzania Development Support (TDS), a nonprofit organization based in DeKalb, will sponsor a Water Walk fundraising event that will give local residents the opportunity to empathize with hardships faced by people in countries where water is in short supply.

Water is so plentiful in the United States that little thought is given to how critically important it is to life. In other countries the scarcity of water forces inhabitants to spend an entire day, every day, walking miles to locate water. This task is typically assigned to children, most often girls, who walk for water instead of going to school.

In Nyegina, Tanzania, volunteers with Tanzania Development Support have seen girls walking along the roadside carrying containers to and from a waterhole. The containers are large enough to hold four or five gallons. Once the containers are full, the girls balance them on their heads or strap them to their backs to carry home. The water is often dirty and contaminated with bacteria, but it’s all that is available.

The Water Walk will be held from 2-5 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in the MLK commons on the campus of Northern Illinois Uni. It is meant to replicate the hardship undertaken by Tanzanian girls; however, walkers in this event will carry clean water, walk on flat terrain and wear shoes. Participants are asked to complete as many laps as possible while carrying up to five gallons of water.

To make the experience feel more authentic, female participants will have the option of wearing a Tanzanian kanga, a wraparound skirt. Male participants can wear a man’s Tanzanian shirt. Sponsors of walkers donate based on the number of laps completed. Individual donations are gratefully accepted as well at the TDS website, www.tdsnfp.org/water-walk. Additional information and application forms are available at the same website.

A bake sale will take place at the same location and time as the water walk.

TDS actively works to empower men, women, and children in Tanzania to lift themselves out of poverty through education, training, and community development. TDS is a nonprofit 501c3 organization that partners with grassroots organizations in Tanzania to achieve these objectives. Since 2008, TDS has raised funds to construct a dormitory and furnish bunk beds for 160 girls attending the Nyegina Secondary School. The dormitory was completed in spring 2012. The current project, the Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center, has been under construction since June 2013. The proceeds from the water walk will help fund this construction project.

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