The average distance a Sudanese person has to walk to get fresh water is just under four miles.
This Father's Day, people are coming together to walk that same distance in a 6k event, "Walk for Water and Wishes," to unite and support the Lost Boys of Sudan and their humanitarian mission. Additionally, this is the first time this local group of Sudanese refugees will walk together again since they escaped from their war-torn country to arrive at the Kakeuma refugee camp in Kenya.
"When the Boys came [to the United States] in 2005, [Secretary of Defense] Colin Powell charged the United States to support Sudan in their efforts to create meaningful, lasting peace since they've been at war for so many years," said event organizer and Manlius Pebble Hill student Haviland Hawkins. She became involved in helping the Sudanese about two years ago, selling bracelets and promoting their cause through the annual MPH Community Service Fair. "After I became really involved, attending meetings at St. Vincent de Paul Church [in Syracuse] whenever I could, I realized that I wanted to do more."
Hawkins, with the help of local sponsors including Catholic Charities, St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, and Manlius Pebble Hill, arranged for the June 20 benefit to take place at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville. All money raised will be directly contributed to Sudanese projects that enable natives to help themselves; projects dedicated to building and investing in wells, schools and clinics.
The walk will help fund 10 established Lost Boy programs whose names and descriptions can be found on the website, walkforwaterandwishes.com.
The event will also give attention to a Sudanese Independence referendum set for Jan. 9, 2011.
"[The referendum] will determine the status of South Sudan's independence," Hawkins said. "There is great risk, which is why we have a petition at the walk to be signed by supporters. Peace can only be sustained if the South is not denied access to natural resources, especially water, education and medical care. There is great concern that Sudan could end up in turmoil again -- their country has been torn apart by civil war, first in the '50's, then in the '70's with devastating effects on the people."