When you ponder the many possible ways to provide clean water for those in developing countries, a trans-continental bike ride may not be the first thing to cross your mind. However, that is precisely what five APU students have planned this May in their “Ride for Water.”
Together, junior business management major Jordan Williams, junior psychology major Andrew Earle, senior psychology major Brian Terada, junior business major Dan Eckman and junior business major Alex Piering put together the ride in hopes of raising $40,000 for the nonprofit organization Charity: water.
The focal point of their project is addressing the problem of clean water access and the 800 million people who lack it. After considering various causes and organizations, they decided upon Charity: water because it donates 100% of the money raised to clean water rather than logistical or administration costs. Williams also said they liked how Charity: water provides a GPS tracking system that shows fundraisers exactly where their money goes.
The idea was born last year, but with some members of the group studying abroad, they decided to wait so they could all be back at APU together for fundraising. The five who ended up being part of the final project were united by their passion both for the issue of clean water, and the prospect of doing something about it.
“It wasn’t like we had a specific team in mind, we just kinda looked for people that were passionate about the same things,” Eckman said. “I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that God put together this team.”
The money raised by this effort will be used to build wells in Ethiopia. Charity: water estimated these wells will serve over 10,000 people, Eckman said. Though the organization does not normally set aside funds for specific projects, they made an exception for the APU students.
“They were really inspired by what we wanted to do,” Eckman said.
The water problem facing much of the developing world is a compound one. When villages don’t have access to clean water, women and children are forced to collect it.
According to Charity: water’s website, these people spend an average of three hours a day collecting water. This is time that could be spent getting an education, raising a family or running a business. The journey is also dangerous with a risk of injury or attack. Furthermore, the unclean water and poor sanitation cause 80% of all diseases, which rob families of more time and resources.
“Up until this project happened, we really didn’t dive enough into the issue to realize just how essential water is for economic growth,” Earle said.
Charity: water encourages people to do whatever they are passionate about to attract sponsors whether that be skateboarding or swimming. For these five, the idea of biking came as inspiration from Eckman’s brother, who did a similar charity trip for a different organization a number of years ago while at APU.
“It was on of those things that really caught my eye about what APU students were willing to do for the Kingdom,” Eckman said.
As of Jan. 30, Ride for Water has raised $1,650 from 82 people. This mostly represents their own personal networks, Williams said. They hope to gain support from APU’s network, small business and churches, even if it’s just a little at a time.
“If people can’t donate financially, we want them to still make it their own project. They can help us out just through spreading it into their networks,” Williams said.
For these five, looking deeper into the issue provided the inspiration and drive to dive in further, even when the journey seemed to get harder along the way.
“The problem is solvable. We can make a huge difference and everyone who has supported this so far already has,” Terada said.
To learn more about Ride for Water or donate to the cause, visit their website at rideforwater.com.
“In anything you do, in anything you’re passionate about, I think you have to be crazy enough to start, but smart enough to finish it and I think that’s something that we’re really trying to figure out in our own journey.” Eckman said.