Walk for Water to aid nonprofit

Last year’s Walk for Water drew 2,600 people who carried buckets of water to experience what women and children in developing nations endure to get water.

Imagine walking miles to get water to meet your family’s basic needs and then lugging it home in large buckets. It’s a reality of life for millions that Water Missions International hopes to convey Saturday at its annual Walk for Water.

This year’s walk, the seventh annual, will be held March 23 at Cannon Park in downtown Charleston. During the roughly 3.5-mile walk, participants will carry buckets filled with water to symbolize the trek that women and children make each day in developing countries to collect water.

Last year, more than 2,600 people took part in the walk and raised $150,000 for the nonprofit’s global safe water projects. This year, Water Missions’ goal is to raise $250,000, and organizers expect 3,000 people to turn out.

The Christian nonprofit, based in North Charleston, works to provide safe water to people in developing countries and disaster areas. It has operated in 49 countries on five continents.

The Walk for Water will begin at 9 a.m. at Cannon Park on Rutledge Avenue in downtown Charleston. Participants walk to White Point Garden, where they fill 3-gallon buckets with dirty water to carry back.

Along the route, volunteers hold signs that say things like: “Sorry! Water source is dry this time of year. Keep Walking.” Or, “You tripped and spilled you water. Go back 3 miles for more.”

“It’s a reality check. They say, ‘Oh wow, I have to go back or my family won’t have water today,’ ” said Brittany Fogle, special events coordinator at Water Missions. “We want people to really feel what it’s like.”

How much water and how far people carry their buckets is up to the participants. Some people, especially children, carry just a few cups. Others arrive with elaborate contraptions to carry several buckets to experience the reality facing women and children (who usually are in charge of transporting water) in areas without clean water, Fogle said.

When participants reach the walk’s end at Cannon Park, Water Missions will have on hand its engineers and water treatment systems, including its widely used Living Water system, to clean water on site. The nonprofit installs roughly 200 water-treatment systems a year.

Adult registration for the walk is $20. Children 10 and under are free. Virtual walkers online can register for $10.

To register or for more information, go to www.water missions.org/walk or contact Fogle at 769-7395 or walk@watermissions.org.

Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.