The annual Walk for Water event strives to lessen the billions and increase the liters in Rwanda, Africa


20 liters: the recommended amount of clean water per person, per day.

1.1 billion: the number of women and children who have to walk every single day to collect water.

2 billion: the number of people who are drinking contaminated water.

5: the number of girls striving to lessen the billions and increase the liters.

Last year, current seniors Susannah Bennett and Olivia Bunnell organized Walk for Water, an event that chipped away at the billions of people—specifically in Rwanda, Africa—who have contaminated water.

Through the 20 Liters program, an organization that strives to provide clean water to countries in need, they collected money to purchase filters for the polluted water and organized the mile-walk to raise awareness.

Senior Maria Finelli, who participated in the walk last year, is now one of the five organizers for this year’s walk. A participant last year, Maria enjoyed the experience and is excited to have a more involved role this year.

“This year, it’s been cool to be on the inside,” Maria said, “because I really enjoyed it last year and wanted to get more involved. I know a lot more about the organization now, so I feel a little bit more connected with it. It’s definitely more touching to think about.

With time, the premise of the walk has remained the same: participants collect water from a creek in 20-Liter jugs and then carry them for a mile around the track. Acting as a smaller-scale simulation of what the people of Rwanda experience every single day, participants of the walk—Maria especially—notice how harrowing the mile is.

“We only did it for maybe a half hour, and it was so hard,” Maria said. “I cannot imagine doing that every single day. It just gives you a taste of what it’s like for the people in Rwanda who have to carry their water like that every single day for hours.”

For this year’s walk, the mile will hold even more significance.

Held on Earth Day, participants will have Earth—and the countries deprived of clean water inhabiting it—in the back of their minds as they carry the 20-liter jugs.

“We wanted to do it on Earth Day [because] even though it’s not technically cleaning the Earth,” Maria said, “it’s still making the Earth a better place by providing people with clean water who otherwise might not have it available.”

According to senior Kara Bolger, another one of the organizers, having the event on Earth Day “gives people a bigger reason to get involved.”

With high hopes for a huge turnout, the five girls organizing the event took not only the day into consideration, but the time of day, too. Instead of having the walk after school, like it was last year, the girls made the decision to hold it during sixth hour.

Along with an optimistic outlook for participation, senior Maddy Williams has hopes for a wave of understanding amongst participants.

“I hope from the walk,” Maddy said, “people can just gain knowledge of the organization and understand what people go through in Rwanda.”

The walk itself promotes awareness for the water crisis, but not money for actually providing the clean water.

That’s where the fundraising comes in.

In the weeks leading up to the walk, bracelets, t-shirts, and stickers will be sold; the profits will go towards purchasing filters, which will clean the contaminated water of Rwanda. In addition to the products sold at lunch, there is a website online where money can be virtually donated.

“It would be really cool if we could get some money,” Maria said with a laugh. “The filters last an individual for ten years, [and] I think each filter amounts to about 20 dollars. They’re not super expensive, and they last for a long time.”

With no set financial goal in mind, Maddy’s main intent is just spreading awareness. With posters surrounding the school, promotions on Instagram, the products being sold leading up to the event, and the actual Walk for Water on Earth Day, it will be nearly impossible to miss the message.

“I think a lot of people in Forest Hills take for granted that we have clean water,” Kara said. “It will be a good reminder to other people that there really [are] people struggling around the world. We’re helping in the best way that we can.”

To Maddy, the event and the fundraising is “something small that makes a large impact somewhere else.” For possibly hundreds of people to unite and experience a sliver of the Rwandan lifestyle, the event on Earth Day has the ability to change mindsets and even lives.

Working hard to lessen the billions of lives who don’t have access to the recommended 20 liters of clean water a day, the five girls organizing the event understand the turmoil surrounding the water crisis and hope that anyone participating in the event will gain the same understanding.

“I hope that people can come and kind of think about what other people are going through across the world,” Maria said. “Especially on Earth Day, thinking that maybe we can make a difference by raising some money and helping people get clean water. I think it would be really cool for us to be able to give back to people who aren’t as fortunate.”