Eighth annual Water Walk raises $7K for Nigerian wells
NASHUA – More than 100 residents throughout Greater Nashua joined Charles Okorie, chairman of Thank You Project, for his organization’s eighth annual Water Walk fundraiser at Greeley Park on Sept. 16.
Participants walked from the park to the Nashua River on Franklin Street where they filled five-gallon buckets before returning to the park, a round-trip distance of two miles.
Once filled, a five-gallon bucket of water weighs approximately 42 pounds. Okorie, a Nigerian immigrant, said this is what the people of Nigeria go through every day just to get water.
According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, northern Nigeria has been hit the hardest as only 30 percent of its citizens have access to safe drinking water. It is also not uncommon for temperatures to exceed 100 degrees, particularly during the dry season, which lasts from November until March.
However, for the past eight years, the Thank You Project has been working feverishly to drill wells and put an end to the drinking water crisis in Nigeria.
“I’m a firm believer in miracles,” said Okorie, adding that such an undertaking cannot be done alone. “The Thank You Project is about our collective humanity.”
This year’s Water Walk raised more than $7,000 which will be used to help complete a seventh well serving the Nigerian communities of Achi and Ututu. Okorie said the ultimate goal is to have 20 wells.
Okorie said the cost of one well is $35,000. Provided the funds are available, he said it takes two months to drill 700 feet down to install a purification system and pipes that connect to a spring-fed reservoir. Once the underground infrastructure is completed, water is accessible through a series of centrally-located, outdoor spigots.
“This is something that the government was supposed to do but they didn’t do it,” said Okorie.
Nashua resident Mary Laber first learned about the Water Walk when Okorie spoke about the event at the Nashua Presbyterian Church, where she is a parishioner. Since then, Laber has participated in the Water Walk every year.
She said she was particularly moved by the fact that more than 100,000 children, no more than five years old, die every year from drinking contaminated water.
“I can’t stand the thought of them suffering,” she said.
Laber also lauded Okorie for his commitment and work ethic.
“He’s the man who walks the walk,” she said. “He doesn’t just sit back and wait for somebody else.”
Dr. Bradford Stull, an English professor at Rivier University, brought 30 freshmen students with him as part of the school’s annual First Year Day of Service.
“The Water Walk was a fabulous opportunity for incoming members of the Global Scholars Honors Program to take both symbolic and practical local action for a global problem,” he said. “Charles generously welcomed us and the students were positively impressed by the walk’s impact.”
Okorie said the need for clean water is one that transcends all boundaries and cannot be politicized.
“Democrats, Republicans — they all drink water,” he said.