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Water Walk marches into fifth year; Thank You Project raising money for third well

NASHUA – Charles Okorie understands the reality millions around the world face when it comes to lacking access to clean water, devoting much of his time and energy to extend the life expectancy of those in his home country of Nigeria.

His solution is simple, prevent people from coming in contact with water-borne illnesses by giving them access to clean water. According to Unicef, the combination of contaminated drinking water and poor sanitary conditions results in people’s increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea, which leads to the death of more than 70,000 children under the age of 5 each year. In recognizing this urgent need, Okorie understands that polluted water is not just dirty, but deadly.

This is why his nonprofit Thank You Project is hosting its fifth annual Water Walk on Sept. 14 to raise funds to drill a third water borehole in Nigeria, this time in his wife’s home village.

“This is an international project that we are doing just from our humble location here in Nashua. We are impacting the lives of people thousands of miles away across the ocean,” Okorie said.

The Thank You Project’s goal is to provide the equipment necessary to dig freshwater wells, establish a scholarship fund and to eventually construct a spiritual center.

Since he founded the Christian-based nonprofit in 2014, two freshwater wells have been established in his home community of Ututu. In addition, the Thank You Project also has provides students with college scholarships. The scholarship fund is specifically for indigenous students in Nigeria who are unable to cover the cost of tuition.

The planned third well will be constructed in Achi. If the necessary funds are raised, his plan is to complete the well this year and offer it to the community as a Christmas present. He said the average cost of each well is about $30,000, and as soon as the nonprofit has the money, the hope is to start construction, around Oct. 1.

“What we are doing is very simple, it’s not complicated,” Okorie said. “We are trying to reach a million people. This is not just about us here locally, this is about our collective humanity.”

He said by reaching a million people and having them each donate a dollar, the Thank You Project will then have a million dollars to work with, which could be used to change the destiny of communities lacking a clean water supply.

Okorie grew up in Nigeria in a gated community, although on the other side of that gate other people faced a different fate. He later moved to the United States in 1998 and knew he wanted to address the need back home somehow, which is the driving force behind how his nonprofit began.

The fifth annual Water Walk will take the same route as last year, from Greeley Park to the Nashua River along the Main Street bridge. People will walk down Concord Street with an empty water container and fill those water containers once they reach downtown.

Registration for the event is between 8:30-9 a.m., and people are asked to bring their pledge forms and donations to the Hatch Shell at Greeley Park. From there, the walk will begin at 9 a.m., and when walkers return, there will be entertainment, games and snacks from 11 a.m. to noon. The walk is approximately a mile long, and any walker who raises more than $25 will receive a free T-shirt.

For more information about the Thank You Project, visit https://thankyouproject.org.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.