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WVGHA Students Join Other Volunteers to Spread Awareness for Clean Water Initiative

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Students from across the state are teaming up to spread awareness about clean water, one bucket at a time.

Every three seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness, mostly in countries where residents do not have easy access to clean water.

"They can't just turn on the faucet, and the water comes out. They have to go and walk for hours and go and collect water that may not even be clean," said volunteer Sarah Dodson from the GFWC Bridgeport Juniors.

The average woman without access to clean water walks more than one hour to fill just one of these buckets. She does this two to three times per day. But thousands of miles away, volunteers are looking to change that. Students from the Governor's Honors Academy helped prepare for a Walk for Water this weekend sponsored by Nuru - a program started by West Virginians to tackle extreme poverty in Kenya.

"We walk about a mile, we go and collect water from a water source, and then we carry it back. This is basically to give people the experience that people in other countries that don't have clean water can emulate," said Dodson.

"It's fundraising, but really it's awareness so somebody can be a part of something and say, 'Man, I did this, I understand, I have empathy," said Karen Gergely, an instructor for the West Virginia Governor's Honors Academy (WVGHA).

Those who helped with the initiative said Nuru's efforts to promote sustainability sets it up for success and apart from other initiatives.

"They go in and they lend money, then they leave, and that's the end of it. Then everything falls back to what it was before," said Nancy Kincaid, a student at the WVGHA.

"I really enjoyed the fact that they don't just give handouts. They show the people how to grow better crops and help them get started, and then leave and let them run their own thing. They don't just say, 'Here's some water, do what you want with it.' It's helping them more and for a longer amount of time," said Darrell McBeath, a student at the WVGHA.

The "Walk for Water" will be held on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Bridgeport City Park. For more information, visit the event's website.