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Women for water

Nonprofit group's fundraiser shows just how far people in Third World countries have to walk to get water.

September 15, 2010|By Michael Miller, michael.miller@latimes.com
  • Georgiana Willis, Wendy Habicht, Ella Peterson, and Kathy Daniels will walk to raise funds for Woman of the Wells, an organization that builds wells in underdeveloped regions of the world. The group will be doing a charity walk starting at Pacific Coast Highway and Beach Boulevard on Saturday.
Georgiana Willis, Wendy Habicht, Ella Peterson, and… (DON LEACH, HB Independent )

About seven people will die during the first minute of Women of the Wells' charity walk Saturday morning.

They won't die in Huntington Beach, per se, but every eight seconds, according to the World Health Organization, a child somewhere in the world dies from a disease caused by unsafe drinking water.

When the Newport Beach-based nonprofit starts its 5-kilometer trek at Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, it hopes to raise enough money to reduce those fatalities — even if it's just by a few.

The nonprofit, founded in 2005 by Huntington Beach resident Kathy Daniels, has raised money to install wells and cisterns in 11 impoverished countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Daniels and her colleagues have already paid for three wells this year, and they hope the money raised Saturday will go toward seven or eight more, at least.

"It's something we take so for granted," said group President Georgiana Willis. "When you bring clean water to a village, you're giving that village a reprieve from the disease and death that would certainly come if they went on drinking filthy water."

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The fundraiser, the WOW Walk 4 Water, is Women of the Wells' second annual charity walk. The nonprofit previously raised funds through luncheons and teas, but the members started the walk last year because they felt distance symbolized how far many people had to walk to find water.

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, with the walk starting an hour later. Signs containing facts about water availability around the world, propped up in plastic buckets, will line the route along Pacific Coast Highway.

Daniels originally had the idea for Women of the Wells when she saw a television program about the difficulty Third World residents had obtaining drinkable water. She and her husband raised funds independently to buy wells through the charity Operation Blessing International before Daniels decided to start her own group.

Even though she and the other leaders of Women of the Wells have never visited a Third World country, photos of the conditions there — with people walking miles to gather water from muddy rivers and lakes — told them enough.

"We wouldn't even step in that water, let alone drink it," Daniels said.

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