Religion feature: Water walk hopes to raise awareness

Courtesy photo: Justin Robbs The water that many Africans depend on for drinking, cooking, and washing sometimes comes from an unsanitary source like this stagnant mud hole.

Benna Sayyed

Imagine walking several miles through terrain that is home to predatory animals to collect water from an unsanitary source just to survive.

If you’re lucky, your source might be a river, but on other days, the water you use for drinking, cooking and washing your clothes could be found in a stagnant mud hole.

These circumstances are not taken from a survivor movie but the reality of citizens of rural western Kenya, where families face a vicious cycle of disease and poverty due to an ongoing water crisis.

After visiting Africa twice and adopting a child from Ethiopia, Clovis natives Justin Robbs and his wife Angie became inspired to help those in Africa who suffer from not having adequate sanitary water to survive.

The Robbs are working to collect $10,000 to help dig a well in a village where residents walk two hours for water more than once a day. So far the Robbs have raised $3,300 and will continue making steps — literally — toward their goal this Saturday in Clovis.

Participants of Water Walk 2011 will meet at the Trinity United Methodist Church at 10 a.m. and walk to Greene Acres Lake, where they’ll fill a jug or bucket with water and carry it back to Trinity.

According to Justin Robbs, the 1.5 mile walk is intended to make the citizens of Clovis more sympathetic to their cause and desire to participate in future fundraisers for wells in Africa.

“I think it’s important to be mindful and thankful for all the things we have. My cell phone has been acting up and that seems like such a huge problem to me because it is how I communicate,” Justin Robbs said. “But at the same time I can walk to the nearest sink and get clean, running water without even thinking about it.”

“It’s important for all us Americans in general in a land where we’re blessed with so many things to think about how we can share that wealth with those who are less fortunate,” he said.

Gwyn Del Toro, a longtime friend of the Robbs, learned about Kenya’s water crisis on Angie’s Facebook page and will participate in her first water walk Saturday.

“This is just a small part of what I can do to make this become a reality for someone else,” Del Toro said.

Pam Chinikidiadi of Clovis has worked with underprivileged youth in the Ukraine and Mexico for several years and is looking forward to her first water walk.

“My heart is with children. When kids hurt, I hurt, so I want them to have water,” said Chinikidiadi.

The Robbs plan to host their next water walk in the Rio Rancho area and hope that Saturday’s walk is the start of a fundraising campaign that will lead to the construction of many more wells in Africa.