Article courtesy of Megan Campbell | June 19, 2015 | Issaquah Reporter | Shared as educational material
In a town called Dawo Kara, Ethiopia, an Eastside Catholic teen walked for miles with barefoot women and children to the muddy stream for their drinking water, where cows and other wildlife wade. It was February 2014.
By the end of Giuliana Sercu’s trip, as part of Water1st International’s program to bring access to clean water to people around the world, a water facility had been installed and she was able to see what a faucet could do for a community.
“It’s just a world of difference for them,” Sercu said. “Girls can go to school rather than walking all day to collect water for their families.”
This year, Sercu joined more than 700 walkers at the Seattle Carry 5 Walk for Water event May 31, an event that brings awareness to the daily struggle women and girls endure in order to bring water to their families.
Sercu, who raised $7,750 for the event, has been listed as one of the event’s top fundraisers for the fourth year in a row. This year, she formed an Eastside Catholic High School team, and, including the money she raised, the team collected about $8,400.
The team took turns carrying a 5 gallon container of water on their backs, something Sercu experienced on her trips to Ethiopia. She had visited the country once before, with her mother, in 2011.
The desire to help was spurred when a Water1st presenter came to her school in seventh grade. She participated in her first walk that year and has volunteered in the Seattle Water1st offices in any way she can.
“I would just go and lick envelopes or something,” she said.
She was passionate about the project, as it was not just about giving women educational opportunities.
“It’s not like they were going to get clean water,” Sercu said. “Really, the water they’re walking to get is killing them,” she said.
The organization also helps bring toilets and hand-washing stations to communities, in an effort to teach proper hygiene and stifle disease.
Sanitation near clean water sources is one of the hot-button hygiene topics.
“If you have clean water but you’re going to the bathroom in your front yard, there’s still going to be disease,” Sercu said.
Since 2011, Sercu has raised somewhere around $30,000 for the Water1st cause, she said.
“(This experience) will always be a part of my life,” she said.
Since the nonprofit Water1st began in 2005, it has raised more than $11 million to fund 1,200 water projects in places like Ethiopia, Bangladesh, India and Honduras, according to its website. The money goes toward installing sustainable clean water facilities, which Water1st members teach communities how to build, operate and repair.