We will have Ruth Mayes and David Hill from Stokesley Rotary Club as speakers for our October’s meeting. They will be giving a presentation about their 100-mile ‘Walk for Water’ event in 2019. They raised just over the targeted £5,000 for the Village Water charity to provide clean water access to a Zambian community.
Our speakers, David Hill and Ruth Mayes, explained that they had developed a special interest in supporting projects to provide clean water after reading an article in a Rotary magazine about a village in Zambia where water had to be collected (mostly by women and children). They would often walk for 20 minutes to source water that was unfit to drink, which resulted in many people becoming ill. Children were missing school in order to collect water for the family and women were exposed to risk. Rotary has established links with a charity called Village Water. Village Water supports communities through empowerment. The charity provides wells, and the residents must pledge their ongoing involvement and monitoring of the project. The village must remain involved with the maintenance of each well and people are expected to attend education and training sessions in order to obtain the required skills.
As well as the obvious health benefits of access to clean water, the drilling process created jobs and the income generated has helped villagers to become independent, escape poverty and send their children to school. Keeping to the theme of ‘water’, they embarked on a meticulously planned walk starting at High Cup Nick and following the River Tees along the 100 miles of the Teesdale Way.
The talk was illustrated with some great photographs of the walkers and heart-warming anecdotes about their encounters along the way and the manner in which others helped them – including an impressive effort by Stockton Council to clear some of the footpaths as they neared the end of the walk through Yarm.
The benefits have been tangible – now more villagers have toilets and are spared the indignity of squatting in fields and 93% of girls are now in school.
It is entirely consistent with the aims of Soroptimists that when women are better educated, they are healthier, have fewer children and can obtain an income to support their families.
As the walkers for water so perfectly summed it up:
“We walked for people we will never know but will always care about.”
Discussion followed and we heard a report from a local group, ‘Women Learning Together (WLT)’ which was set up by former SIM member Kauser Hussain and involved mostly Asian women, offering them opportunities to grow, learn and overcome cultural barriers. The report was delivered by Yvonne, who explained that in the past, WLT had done a lot of work to support ‘Water Aid’.
In short, it was an excellent talk enjoyed by all. A big thanks to our member Marianne Hill for organising it and the speakers.