JUST ADD WATER
Hundreds of Lake Oswegans show their support for Zambian villagers at Walk4Water9
For Zambian villagers, walking for miles just to retrieve clean drinking water is a terrible hardship. But for the hundreds of people who carried buckets of water through Lake Oswego on Saturday to simulate the villagers experience, it was an outpouring of goodwill.
This is an expression of your care for them, said Gary Mittelstaedt, the co-director of WaterAfrica, who greeted the crowd at the beginning of the Walk4Water event. WaterAfrica has been going for nine years, and it is helping 30,000 people.
Final numbers have yet to be tabulated for this years two-mile walk from Foothills Park to Millennium Plaza and back. But WaterAfrica had hoped to add $70,000 to the $1.4 million it has already raised to help World Vision provide fresh water and implement sustainable sanitation and hygiene programs in Zambia.
That was good news to Chikondi Phiri, the deputy national director of World Vision in Zambia, who traveled to Lake Oswego for the event and told the walkers about all the ways that fresh water makes a difference in his homeland.
It means better health, education, economic empowerment and child protection, Phiri said. Your support has a remarkable impact on the lives of Zambias people.
Lake Oswego resident LuAnn Yocky also represented World Vision at the event. Shes made 45 trips to Africa and said she is thrilled about the progress being made in Zambia and other African nations.
There is such a ripple effect when people get fresh water, Yocky said. I can hardly wait to see it again. This region has gone from utter poverty to having a future.
Saturdays event was not without some controversy. In mid-March, Councilor Jon Gustafson asked the City to withhold its support for WaterAfrica because the funds it raises flow to World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that bans employees who are in same-sex marriages.
The City responded by removing information about the Walk4Water event from its official publications. But an official City proclamation declaring April 23 as WaterAfrica Day remained in place, and Mayor Kent Studebaker was on hand Saturday to present a copy to Phiri.
Whether the controversy impacted fundraising efforts was still unclear this week. But Yocky offered a simple statement.
World Vision helps anybody and everybody, she said.