Published Tue, Oct 24, 17. Written by Shannon Smith.

In Africa, women spend 40,000,000,000 hours a year walking for water.
The average distance that women and children walk for water in Africa and Asia is 3.7 miles.

For years, I have read and said things like the this.  I have spouted off statistics and told stories of the plight of those X women and children.  I have asked numerous people to pick up containers of water to allow them experience the weight of the burden carried by those without local access to clean water.

Until Saturday, September 22, 2017, my experience with carrying water was limited to setting up for presentations and toting around a 750mL personal water bottle [add link to our water bottles].  While I had sympathy for the those we serve and a desire to improve their lives.  I have never walked in their shoes.  I have never had to take the long walk to water.  I had never tried to understand better by experiencing their daily journey of carrying what’s necessary for our survival.  I had no empathy.

Kim Smith starting off the Carry the Water 5k

This Fall, our partner Global Hope India, held Carry the Water, a 5K with a twist.  As a part of the event, participants carried containers to collect water.  Two-thirds of the way through the course, we filled our containers with water and carried them to the finish line.  A generous sponsor had committed to fund up to four clean water projects based on how much water was collected by the racers.

Our family of five participated in the event.  We brought with us containers similar to those I have witnessed people carrying in the communities we serve.  We had jerrycans, buckets, and large water jugs.

The race started with a walk through the beautiful Dorthea Dix Park.  Carrying the containers was a little cumbersome, but no real burden.  We reached the water source having not broken a sweat, as the weather was nice and the course was mostly shaded.

Shannon Smith struggling through the Carry the Water 5k

After filling our containers to the max we could carry, we set off for the final mile.  From the beginning, the water was heavy.  I carried a five gallon water cooler bottle.  My wife, Kim, and friend, Amber, each had a jerrycan, and my 10-year-old-son had a bucket.  In total we had roughly 12 gallons (100 lbs) of water.

Carrying the water got more difficult with each step.  We had to shift how we carried the containers and trade off who carried which.  The walk that would normally take 10-15 minutes turned into 30 minutes.  Near the end, another participant came to our aid and helped carry the water.  Upon finishing, our muscles ached and we were covered in sweat.

To us, this was a workout unlike our normal routines.  To 648,000,000 people around the world, this is a daily reality.  I learned more on that mile walk than I have in years about why people need local access to clean water.  That walk gave me empathy for those we serve.

The walk also has increased my desire to help more communities.  I would love to have your help in lifting this burden from another community.  Your donation of $25 will change one person’s life, $100 can change an entire family.  Will you join me?


Working together with family and friends to finish the Carry the Water 5k