Walking for Purpose, Walking to Help

Adrian Soto, Writer

On Feb. 9, the Downey community was given the opportunity to fight the water crisis plaguing countries in Africa through an event at the Downey Allen Layne Stadium.  The event, Walk 4 Water, was organized by Kiwin’s and the Thirst Project in order to fundraise money for a pump in an African town that has no access to clean water.


Two weeks prior to Feb. 9, Kiwin’s hit the ball running with an uproar of announcements and sign-ups for Walk 4 Water.  Individual members announced the event in their classes or through posters around the school to encourage people to attend.  During the days approaching Walk 4 Water, Kiwin’s managed a small tent in the Downey High School quad to answer questions, simulate the walk, and give information on the Thirst Project.


Kiwin’s member and volunteer for the event, junior Wendy Galvan, felt content with Downey’s efforts to stop the water crisis.  This is one of many Kiwin’s events that she has attended, but felt it was a bit different than the rest.


“When we first found out about the water crisis, honestly we weren’t informed,” Galvan said.  “Once we had our first presentation, I was really inspired by the fact that we take so many things for granted here: we complain for some really basic things like ‘Oh my phone is old’ or something, and there is people who are dying because they don’t have water…they don’t even know if they are going to make it to the next day.  So that is why I am here, I know this might not end everything but at least it will help a community.”


Walk 4 Water is combating the international clean water issue that is experienced most harshly by developing countries.  Africa is often seen as the section of the world suffering most from the water crisis. As such, the Thirst Project has made it their mission to provide close, clean water wells/pumps for villages in Africa.  On a recent trip made by Thirst Project members to a village in Uganda, Africa, they saw the positive impact one of their constructed wells had on the community. Similar to this Ugandan village, Thirst Project and Kiwin’s hope is to raise enough money ($12,000) through Walk 4 Water to create a new well in another African village in need.


Christian Vega, an eighth-grader from Doty Middle School, attended the event with his older brother that attends Downey High School.  He found value in the impact that Walk 4 Water can have on people less fortunate than him.


“I feel glad knowing that so many people are helping people that need the water,” Vega said.  “It is kind of amazing to see all these people come out of their daily lives to come and help out.  So many people come and it is fun.”


The event was managed by the Kiwin’s and the Kiwanis organizations respectfully.  In the beginning, they collected donations as people were registering.  Although it rained for the duration of the registration, people continued to participate.  Once the rain stopped, Kiwin’s club members mobilized to clear as much water as they can from the track for the event to continue without a hitch.  


Moments before the start of the actual walk, the National Anthem was sung and three Army recruits held up the flag.  A Zumba excerise/stretch was done to aid the walkers in their stretch. After Zumba, Evan Wesley got on the stage as the Thirst Project’s main representative to speak a few words directed to the walkers (especially the youth and students).  To end his short speech and to transition the crowd to the walk, Wesley stated a Ugandan proverb: “‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you wanna go far, go together.’”


Wesley is the main representative of the Thirst Project which Downey Kiwin’s and Kiwanis are in contact with.  He felt proud of the turnout of the fundraiser.


“Honestly it’s the students [that motivates me],” Wesley said.  “I meant what I said on stage, students are not just the future but today, and just by students coming out here and understanding at such a young age that there [are] real issues that matter like the global water crisis.  Not only that issues matter but that they can do something about them, that is something special… like that is so, so special. So it motivates me to work every day, to come out to these events, to go to Africa, is the fact that there are young people around the world that are ready to make a difference.  People talk about purpose a lot, that they struggle with purpose at their jobs. But with Thirst Project we never struggle with our purpose, it is very clear that the work that we do, it literally transforms lives, it changes lives.”

By the end of the event, Wesley and other participants from the walk volunteered to be a part of a water game for people to enjoy.  Both Kiwin’s/ Kiwanis and the Thirst Project saw the day as a success with over 200 participants in attendance and their goal being met.  When Walk 4 Water came to a close, the goal of $12,000 was surpassed as a total of $12,776 was fundraised through Kiwin’s efforts..