Walk to help Carmel kids empathize with people in Africa
By Chris Bavender
Water. It’s something we take for granted. But, for many in other countries it’s a daily struggle just to get clean and safe drinking water.
And 10-year-old Meredith Steever wants to do something about that.
“We use so much water. When you’re thirsty you just go to the faucet, flick a switch and – whoosh – water,” she said. “But it’s not so simple for others. They have to walk so far every day just to get something that simple. It seems like no one should have to do that just to get something we need to survive.”
To help, Meredith will host a Walk for Water event April 18 at Towne Meadow Elementary after school in hopes of raising $3,000 for the village of Kager, Kenya, in partnership with the Jubilee Villages Project. It’s all part of the school’s fourth- and fifth-grade gifted and talented program’s Making a Difference project.
Participants will walk around the school track four times – twice with empty five-gallon buckets, and on the last two laps, the buckets will be filled with water.
“It will symbolize the walk they take in Kenya of a mile up to three times a day,” the fifth-grader said. “The walk will go on rain or shine because for those people in Africa, if it does rain they can be thankful they don’t have to go. If it wasn’t nice weather – like cold or not pleasant – they still have to go get water.”
Meredith came up with the idea in part because of a video she came across of another young girl, Rachel Beckwith. In 2011 Beckwith asked for donations in lieu of gifts for her ninth birthday to help raise money for clean drinking water in Rwanda. She didn’t meet her goal and, tragically, was killed in a car accident a month later. An outpouring of donations after her story went public brought in more than $1 million.
“I found quite a few sites of people doing things for clean water but Rachel’s was probably most impactful because it was the most touching story of them all,” she said. “As much as I wanted to connect to Rachel, I didn’t want to donate right to that. When my class saw the video my teacher almost cried and I could tell it was touching. I think (my classmates) actually watched it and listened and connected to it – it wasn’t some adult on Charlie Brown going ‘Womp, womp, womp,’ and rambling on.”
Meredith’s dad, Geoff Steever, said she’s always had compassion and been sincere.
“And she is very willing to show it on a frequent basis. If she sees something that is not right she wants to fix it,” he said. “I remember at a young age she saw a dog without water and went and filled (its bowl). It’s that kind of thing, being aware of your surroundings and knowing what to do – that is what makes me very proud – that she has that ability at this young age. I think back to when I was a kid; I was clueless. Your best satisfaction is knowing your kids have it at a young age and that makes them prepared for when they were older.”
Ned Campbell, executive director of the Jubilee Villages Project, said Steever is inspiring.
“When I heard that Meredith wanted to host her own Walk For Water at her elementary school I was blown away,” Campbell said. “The Walk For Water is quite an experience for both young and old – to carry five gallons of water on your head for any distance at all gives you just a small glimpse into the daily burden shared by young girls just like Meredith in rural Kenya and all over the world as they fetch and collect water for their families.”
Meredith is asking all of her fellow fifth-grade students to participate in the walk.
“If 150 kids – which is not even the whole of fifth-grade – each donated 20 bucks then even if 25 kids don’t do it we can still get a decent amount of money,” she said.
To learn more about the walk or to donate to the Walk for Water, visit http://jubileevillage.org/villagechanger/tmewalk.