Saturday's Walk 4 Water aims to bring wells to needy

For most Orange County residents, grabbing a cup of clean water is as easy as walking to a refrigerator or water dispenser. However, people living in impoverished regions may have to travel for hours to find water, if they have access to any at all.

That's the message the nonprofit Women of the Wells is hoping to convey to the public during its sixth annual Walk 4 Water 5K walk on Saturday in Huntington Beach.

The Newport Beach-based group is aiming to raise money during the event to continue its mission of helping to build wells to provide clean water in countries around the world.

Participants will begin the walk at the concrete walkway at Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway and head north to 11th Street, where they will turn around and walk back to the start.

Event co-chairwoman Perri Pendleton said those who are willing are asked to carry a filled bucket during the 5K to get a sense of what people go through in lugging the precious liquid from far-away sources.

"They can fill up the buckets with sand, like they're collecting water for a village," she said. "It's very symbolic. We want them to get the idea of what moms and children have to do around the world when they collect water."

Since 2007, the nonprofit has helped build more than 100 wells and cisterns in various countries, including Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, India, the Philippines and China, said the group's vice president, Kathy Daniels.

Each well costs $1,800 to build and provides clean water for about 750 to 1,000 people, event Chairwoman Georgiana Willis said.

"Other organizations charge $10,000, $12,000 or $20,000 per well," she said.

Women of the Wells' costs are low because it works with another group, Operation Blessing International, which provides similar services, Willis said.

Well builders drill holes several hundred feet into the ground until they reach an aquifer. The fixture is then capped to keep the water source from being contaminated, Daniels said.

The wells are usually in the village centers or the most convenient areas for people to access them, Daniels added.

"We feel like when people join us in this effort, they're helping us give death a holiday, one village at a time," Willis said.

If you go

What: Sixth annual Walk 4 Water 5K walk

Who: Women of the Wells

Where: Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach

When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday

Cost: $25 minimum donation

Information: Georgiana Willis at (949) 644-2182

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