A trip to Ethiopia by 14 men and women affiliated with Run For Water was such a success, the charity hopes to repeat it for years to come.
In November, the 14 runners – including 10 from Abbotsford – travelled to Africa alongside Run For Water executive director Peg Peters to run through the country and meet its people, all while trying to raise $100,000 to provide clean water and a new school for a rural village.
Peters said the group – who also paid their own way – met their fundraising goal and had an “unreal” experience in meeting and running with locals from the village being helped. The residents of the remote village, which does not see tourists, were also in a joyous mood and threw a parade and a feast for the Canadians.
“It was moving for them to try and figure out why would we come halfway around the world to connect with them,” Peters said. “It was a celebration of the fact they were going to get access to clean water and they were going to get a school.”
Previously, teachers had taught children outside under a tree during those six months of the year when the weather was good.
Members of the community – many of whom make less than $1 per day – also contributed $10,000 towards the cost of the school and water project.
Construction on the school has already begun, and the runners saw both it and followed in the footsteps of women and girls from the village, who Peters said walk up to two hours each day to get water from an open, unclean source.
“That was really moving.”
Peters had been to Ethiopia eight times before, but he called this trip the best ever, by far. Participants had a similar experience, calling the trip a “life-changing experience.”
The Canadians hit the road for around 10 kilometres each day with local runners.
“Everyone in the country runs, so we’d be off on these off-the-beaten path trails with locals and they were experiencing the beauty of this country,” he said.