It’s a WASH Project

CKI raises funds for UNICEF

Story by Danielle Castonzo

March means more than a second-semester respite for some students. While many of their classmates may only associate water with sunny beaches, CKI members are focused on water issues in underdeveloped regions of the world.

During March Water Madness, CKI clubs raise money for and awareness of the WASH Project, an initiative by UNICEF that stands for “water, sanitation and hygiene.” UNICEF works in more than 100 countries to improve water and sanitation services and improve hygiene practices.

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At the University of Houston in Texas, the CKI club plans to launch a weeklong initiative in collaboration with the University of Houston’s UNICEF chapter. Members will build on the success they experienced during a similar partnership in 2018.

During one week this past March, CKI members distributed more than 100 water bottles along with information about WASH and water scarcity, held a fundraising bake sale, screened an informational movie about water scarcity and hosted a social media competition using WASH trivia.

But they didn’t stop there, says Alex Le, the CKI club’s president. They also planned a 6K mini-marathon on campus to correspond with a district-wide effort.

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“My favorite part of WASH Week was actually an overlapping initiative that our district was promoting,” Le says. “Each day of March, people from around the district challenged each other on social media to run a 6K, or 3.71 miles — which is the average distance that women in developing countries have to walk to obtain access to clean water — in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the WASH Project.” 

The club also started a GoFundMe account, which raised US$155. That in turn allowed them to fund enough purification tablets to create more than 100,000 liters of safe water for families in Haiti, a country still recovering from a 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera epidemic. Close to 70 percent of the Haitian population lacks direct access to potable water, Le says.

“The GoFundMe aligned with Circle K International’s goal of targeting Haiti’s emergency needs to reach 200,000 people in cholera-affected areas with a complete WASH response package,” he says.

The club’s efforts don’t lapse during the other 11 months of the year. The WASH Project is a five-year CKI signature project, and the University of Houston club stresses year-round service. CKI member Rene Andrade believes in the power of that message.

“We take too many things for granted,” she says. “Something as valuable as water can be treated as plentiful here, but we don’t stop to think about how it’s a luxury for all those people around the world. I want to stay involved, because even if we can’t solve the problem entirely, we can still make a small difference in at least one person’s life, and it’ll be worth it.”

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For more information on how you can get involved with the UNICEF WASH Project, click here:

This story originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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