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Third World water struggle simulated at Rotary event

Gary Weston with the Honduras Hope Mission explains the need to provide clean water in developing countries during Saturday's Walk 4 Water event in Adams Township Park. Seb Foltz/Butler Eagle 04/30/22

ADAMS TWP — Of the nearly 1 billion people in developing nations who walk an average 3.7 miles daily to muddy ponds and contaminated wells to retrieve water for their families, 80% are girls or women.

To simulate that arduous walk, which takes up the entire day for many of the females, the Rich-Mar Rotary held its second annual Walk for Water event Saturday morning in Adams Township Community Park.

After signing in and getting their free T-shirt and swag bag, walkers were invited to grab one or two of the gallon jugs of water lined up on a table at the park’s Rotary pavilion.

Participants then carried the water with them as they walked the park’s short loop or longer, 1.3-mile loop.

Gary Weston, of the Rich-Mar Rotary, told those preparing to walk that one gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, so the five-gallon containers carried by most women and girls in developing countries weigh 40 pounds.

“Imagine putting 40 pounds of water on your head and walking with it,” Weston said.

He said the average American uses about 88 gallons of water per day, compared to five gallons in the developing world.

“Why the difference?” Weston said. “You and I, when we need water, we just turn on a tap.”

In addition to the problem of walking for water, water sources in developing countries often are contaminated, Weston said.

So all funds raised at the Walk for Water on Saturday were donated to Honduras Hope Mission, which provides $25 clay water filters to families in that country.

Cindy Potter, president of the local Honduras Hope Mission group in Mars, said the filters contain silver nitrate, which removes harmful and illness-causing components in water.

Each filter lasts two years. The nonprofit mission provides about 750 filters in Honduras each year.

“And they are manufactured in Honduras, so we are helping to support the economy there,” Potter said.

While Saturday’s Walk for Water event was free, most of those who signed up to walk donated $25 to provide a clay filter for Honduras Hope Mission.

Almost 60 people of all ages and fitness levels signed up for the walk, including Tom Varner and his four children, who are aged 6 to 13.

“We did it last year, too,” Varner said. “The kids should understand the importance of water in the world and what other children have to deal with versus American children.”

He hopes his children are thankful for their many blessings as residents of the U.S.

“If we don’t understand what other people go through, we take for granted the privileges we have here in America,” Varner said.

Ashlyn Varner, 13, didn’t seem put off in the least to be lugging a gallon jug of water around the park on a springlike Saturday morning.

“We take for granted the water we get by turning on the faucet, when they have to walk five miles to get five gallons,” Ashlyn said.

Her sister Tessa, 10, also appreciates her father for his dedication in parenting.

“I think he’s just, like, really kind, because he is really, really busy with his business, but he takes time to spend with us and teaches us important things,” Tessa said.

Weston thanked everyone who attended Walk for Water and said all of the gallon jugs of water would be taken home by the walkers or donated to the Glade Run or Lighthouse Foundation food pantries.