By TARA ALATORRE
CAVE CREEK – Not having access to clean, potable water is the harsh reality for over half of Uganda’s population, with thousands of children dying every year from avoidable illnesses contracted by drinking contaminated water, which is why a local Cave Creek resident is asking people to “Walk 4 Water” with her on April 6.
Peggy O’ Rourke, is a Chairman and Ambassador for Water 4 Kids International, a global non-profit organization that raises money to drill deep-water wells and install filtration devices for communities in impoverished countries, helping the millions of people access clean water.
This is her third year organizing the local Walk 4 Water event and fundraiser, which has succeeded in raising enough donations to drill a total of four wells; two wells for every year the event has taken place.
“The good thing about our wells are that they are good for 30 to 50 years,” O’Rourke said. “Other organizations don’t dig as deep, so they are basically still drinking the same dirty surface water. We go 100-feet down into the aquifer.”
In Uganda almost 24 million people do not have access to clean water and over 4,500 children under the age of five die each year from diarrhea-illnesses. Men, women and children suffer from Trachoma-caused blindness contracted from dirty water, according to WaterAid a global non-profit leading the fight for access to clean water and sanitation.
Peggy and her husband, Brian, who is also a Walk 4 Water co-chair, have a goal to raise $25,000 this year to cover the costs for drilling another two wells for villages in the Luwero District of Uganda. Each well drilled this year will provide safe, potable water for four to five villages, helping almost 10,000 people access the basic essential of life, clean water.
But Walk 4 Water, which is affiliated with the international non-profit Water 4 Kids, doesn’t just drill the wells and leave, it also continues to work with the locals, ensuring the wells are being maintained properly, and working.
“Water issues have become our passion,” she said. “You see it come full circle. It’s such a blessing to be a blessing.”
The O’Rourkes say they know first-hand that the wells are being maintained and changing lives. That’s because they have visited the Ugandan villages twice. Once in 2017 before the well was drilled, then in 2018 for the dedication of the Kiwogo Village well, which was funded by2018 Cave Creek’s Walk 4 Water event.
“The increase in health affects can be seen almost immediately,” Peggy said of witnessing the overall quality of life change for the better in the village after the well was drilled in 2018.
So far, the local couple has raised over 60 percent of their fundraising goal this year and are on their way to getting another two wells drilled that will be named after their hometown, Cave Creek.
However, the O’ Rourkes say most of the support for Walk 4 Water has come from members of their church that is active in helping Ugandan communities. But this year they are trying to raise more awareness about Walk4Water by expanding their reach to the surrounding residents and communities.
They are inviting everyone of all ages to join them in a two-mile walk to honor the mothers and young children in Uganda who must travel far distances every day to a contaminated open pond for their daily source of water.
The Walk 4 Water event is on April 6, starting at 8 a.m. at Saddlecreek Coffee Co., 28212 N. Tatum Boulevard, and is the cost is $25 for adults and $15 for ages under 17. Pre-registration is recommended but not required.
To donate, register for the walk or for more information visit www.w4ki.org/events/cavecreek.