Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Walk to Help Those in Need of Clean Water

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Walk to Help Those in Need of Clean Water

Article excerpt

RIDGEFIELD PARK -- Millions of people around the world are forced to walk an average of three miles every day to get clean water.

With this in mind, hundreds of people in New Overpeck County Park walked, ran or jogged three miles on Sunday to raise money for those who the United Nations says struggle to find clean water.

The second annual Walk for Water event, a global effort organized locally by a team of millennial-age volunteers and other staff members of Islamic Relief USA's New Jersey chapter, drew hundreds of people of all ages, many in teams and dressed in brightly colored T- shirts.

While their shirts may have displayed team affiliations, all of the runners came for one purpose -- to raise money for those struggling to find clean drinking water in Africa, organizers said.

"Something as simple as water could fix so much in the world," said Essma Bengabsia, the lead coordinator. "It's one thing after another when people don't have access to water: they starve, they get diseases, there is dehydration. Then people can't work because they are ill and get sucked into poverty even more. Something we take for granted -- something as simple as water -- can make such a change."

Last year, 1,500 people signed up for the Walk for Water, and it raised $113,000, which was donated to Syrian refugees escaping the nation's civil war. The money gathered from Sunday's event will go toward providing various programs to different African nations, said Bengabsia, a 17-year-old North Bergen resident.

Like Bengabsia, a majority of Sunday's volunteers were between the ages of 14 and 22. Bengabsia said many of them were motivated to help causes like Walk for Water because of the Muslim religion's emphasis on charity.

Ambur Pasha, a 22-year-old Hackensack resident, was the event's vice chairwoman. She said the walk brings together the New Jersey community and younger members to focus on one specific issue. …

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