Volunteers gathered around jerry cans that would be filled with water and transported from the NOVUS shop to Langley City Park as part of the Walk for Water fund-and-awareness-raiser on Saturday.

Walk for Water in Langley City aimed to induce empathy

People carried jugs and jerry cans of water through Langley City, to simulate the trek Ugandan women have to endure, every single day.

A six kilometre walk is brisk, but not all that difficult for an average person.

But imagine doing it while carrying a jerry can or four-litre milk jug full of water.

That’s what dozens of participants did Saturday morning in Langley City during the Walk for Water, sponsored by NOVUS, , an auto and residential glass repair shop in Langley.

The fund-and-awareness-raising event, that started and ended at Langley City Park, simulated the trek that Ugandan women have to endure, every day.

They have to walk several kilometres down dangerous roads, just to fill up a couple of heavy jerry cans with potentially contaminated water that may just make them and their loved ones sick.

With a minimum donation of $25, participants walked six kilometres along sidewalks and marked park paths to a “watering hole” at the NOVUS building at 20059 Fraser Highway, before filling up their jerry cans or milk jugs and returning to Langley City Park.

ACTS (Africa Community Technical Service Society) partnered with NOVUS to put the event together.

In 20 years of active involvement in clean water supply, ACTS has completed 21 gravity-flow water projects, providing clean water to 162,000 people in rural Uganda.

(Read more below)

Its director of resource development Jeff Golby said Walk for Water was born when ACTS executive director Nate Lepp joined some Ugandan women on their multiple-times-per-day trek.

“We thought we could do something here that replicated that,” Golby said. “It would give people a sense of what [Ugandan] people go through to get clean water. We think if people can experience it, then they’re going to be more likely to have empathy… in the long run.”

NOVUS covered the costs of this event, therefore ensuring all proceeds will go to provide clean water to a village in southwest Uganda.

It only costs $125 to provide a lifetime of clean drinking water for a child in Uganda, so each $25 donation will have “an immense impact on the livelihood of Ugandan families,” according to Golby.

The goal, however, is less about money and more about instigating long-term empathy and awareness by hosting this event, he added.

NOVUS’s co-owner and B.C. regional manager Lindsay Gallo said the company has a goal to give back, not just regionally, but to the global community, as well.

“This opportunity came to us and we got really excited about it,” Gallo said. “We just want to make an impact.”

As well, NOVUS donated $15,000 to help ACTS finish a water project that will bring clean water to 16,500 Ugandans who would otherwise go without, Golby noted.

(Read more below)

Marg Endersby decided to take part in the walk because, she said, “water is one of the components that the United Nations said everybody is entitled to.”

“The people in Uganda are entitled to it as much as we in Canada are,” she said. “We’re blessed with adequate water; some people are not or they have adequate water and don’t have access to it.”

Also at the event was former Uganda resident Zool Meraly, who has returned to the African country three times since moving to Canada in 1972.

“I’m taking part in this because I have an affinity towards the country,” Meraly said, before the walk got underway.

“I love the Ugandan people. They’re very, very nice people, very friendly people. And I also recognize the hardship that they have to go through, in getting water and other things because of the conditions, poverty, and cultural problems. I feel I should participate in this event, and make a little contribution, if it’s going to help the people live better lives.”

To donate to ACTS online, click here.

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