GLEN ELLYN – More than 150 children and adults gathered in Glen Ellyn recently to experience what it would be like to walk miles for water every day, rather than just a few steps to the kitchen sink.
Living Water Chicago, a branch of the Houston-based organization Living Water International, hosted its third annual “Walk for Water” Aug. 24 in Glen Ellyn, raising more than $4,000 for a clean water project in India.
Founded in 1990, Living Water International installs wells across the world to provide clean water sources for struggling communities. According to organization statistics, more than two million people die each year from water-related diseases.
“Water is really the building block for change in a community,” said Jonathan Jackson, the Glen Ellyn resident who organized this year’s walk.
Jackson first became involved with the event last year after seeing an advertisement seeking volunteers in a church bulletin. He and his wife had been looking for a service project to do with their three young children, and the Walk for Water seemed like the perfect fit.
“It’s hard to find serving opportunities for little kids, so we found out about this and thought it would be a great opportunity for our family to serve together,” Jackson said.
While the event started with Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, it has grown to include the entire community, and this year, many families participated, he said.
As part of the event, participants gathered at Ben Franklin Elementary School with empty containers and walked to Lake Ellyn to fill them. They then trekked back to the school. This totaled about three miles of walking to fill a jug of water – less than the average person walks for water in other places in the world.
During the dry season in Africa, women and children often walk as much as 7 miles to gather water and bring it back to their families, Jackson said. Much of the time, that water is contaminated.
The goal of Glen Ellyn’s Walk for Water is two-fold: to spread the word about the magnitude of the water crisis and to raise funds to address it.
While the idea of solving the world’s water plight may seem daunting, Jackson and others say it’s possible.
“I believe this is a financial issue, and it’s one that we can solve with enough resources,” said Dave Davis, director of Living Water Chicago and executive pastor of Parkview Community Church.
With the funds raised through the Walk for Water, Living Water Chicago is more than halfway toward its goal of $7,500 for a clean water well in India. Davis is confident they’ll be able to raise the rest before the year ends.
The well could be installed by next March, he said.
Witnessing the Walk for Water’s growth over the last few years, Davis hopes it will continue to gain more participants and raise awareness about the suffering that occurs in other areas of the world due to a lack of clean water.
“[It exposes] the community to the water crisis and how they can have an impact,” he said.