Walk 4 Water event helps change lives across the globe

Willows residents Edwin Salazar, 11, Luis Gonzalez, 12, and Emily Vasquez, 12, carry buckets of water during the Walk 4 Water on March 25, 2017, in Bidwell Park in Chico. – Dan Reidel — Enterprise-RecordBy HEATHER HACKING and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | ColumnistPUBLISHED: March 25, 2017 at 9:18 p.m. | UPDATED: April 20, 2018 at 5:04 a.m.

Chico >> Hundreds of people put one foot in front of the other Saturday to bring the gift of water to dry places across the globe.

The event was Walk 4 Water, put on by the local group Bridging the Gap by Giving.

Now in its ninth year, money raised through the event in Bidwell Park will help provide wells in underdeveloped countries, as well as education on how to keep the water clean for daily use.

On a day when the sidewalk was wet in the morning from rain the night before, it’s easy to take water for granted. However, many people must walk for hours a day to provide water for their families in places including Africa. When a well is installed in a village, lives change.

Bridging the Gap partners with other groups working for the same cause. Monica Hubert, of World Vision, was in Chico Saturday to see the local walkers in action. Soon she’ll head off to Malawi to work on a new water system.

Sean Martin works for Lifewater, a group that helps install wells and provides training to people in extremely poor areas throughout the world.

When water isn’t available, sanitation is a huge problem, including the use of the outdoors instead of centralized latrines, Martin explained. Part of the work by his group, which is helped through the local fundraising, is to train people about safe water use.

One project is in Kaliro, Uganda, where door-to-door training will be provided.

Without water available, people in isolated villages do not have a culture of safe water handling, he explained. Sometimes the fix is as simple as showing people how to use plastic containers to store water. In a video produced by the group, a child constructs a frame where a water bottle is attached by rope for a hand-washing station,

Lack of water is a massive problem, Martin explained, but much progress is being made, one project at a time.

Event participants Randy and Cindy Riggs said they joined the walk after hearing a talk by Bridging the Gap founder Shirley Adams.

“She put it on our hearts,” to help, Randy Riggs said.

Cindy Riggs said she felt for women across the globe who spent so much of their day fetching water. When water is available, more people will focus on education, she said.

In addition to the walk, founder Adams and other volunteers regularly sell merchandise that provides funds for future projects. Cal Java and Beatniks have displays of items for sale, for example. Adams also offers a seasonal boutique and by appointment sales at her home.

About 500 people registered for the event Saturday.

Contact reporter Heather Hacking at 896-7758.