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Rutgers Water Day raises awareness about lack of clean water globally

 Yesterday at The Yard @ College Avenue, Charity: Water Rutgers set up an obstacle course that aimed to give a sense of the hardship that people face when obtaining clean water. Participants would go through the course while inside of an inflatable tube.  – Photo by Photo by Catherine Nguyen | The Daily Targum

Charity: Water Rutgers immersed students yesterday afternoon at Rutgers Water Day, an event involving a variety of activities that aimed to raise awareness of the water crisis in other parts of the world. 

One of the main aspects of the event was an obstacle course called the "Water Walk" at The Yard @ College Avenue, which had several balance beams and hoops that participants had to jump through while being strapped inside of a large inflatable tube. The purpose of the obstacle course was to give an idea of the hardships that people, specifically women and girls, have to go through in order to obtain water, often a several mile long journey.

Rutgers Water Day also incorporated virtual reality, where participants could use a headset to see through the eyes of a girl while she traveled to collect water for her family, as well as how the organization charity: water saved her life. The event also included a jerrycan contest and hourly showings of charity: water’s short film, “The Spring.”

Krisha Thakkar, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the event was significant because, with the amount of available water, there were some people who held the misconception that there is not a current “water crisis.”

“It is important for students to learn about the water crisis in other countries because a lot of people don't realize how many people it actually affects,” Thakkar said. “We have access to clean, healthy water literally at the tip of our fingers, yet we still complain about how tap water tastes funny.”

Though there have been improvements in access to drinking water, there are still millions of people without it. There are 663 million people that lack access to clean water, and there is a disparity in access between the amount of people in urban areas and those living in rural areas, according to the World Health Organization

Thakkar said even with these figures, it was still easy for students to help out. 

“As students, it's hard to make a difference with a college budget, but it only takes $30 to (give) one person clean water for their entire lifetime. That's about 5 to 6 cups of Starbucks coffees,” she said.

Charity: Water Rutgers is part of a larger national organization to further spread awareness and fundraise. Thakkar said Rutgers was the first official university chapter of the organization, and was also completely non-profit.

Annalise Bourgeois, a supporter experience manager at charity: water, said that she personally became involved in the organization because the founder came and spoke during one of her classes in college. 

“That’s when I really started to learn more about the organization … they had an open position when I was graduating that really fit my skill set, so I started working there about three years ago,” she said.

Bourgeois said that the Water Walk was a successful initiative done previously that she was glad was also being incorporated at Rutgers. The Walk, as well as the event as a whole, was meant to remind people how important water was in their daily lives.

“We use it for cooking, drinking, bathing, washing our teeth … when you go to a developing country, they have to put in so much work, often walking 2 to 3 miles a day, to collect water. And the water that they’re collecting isn’t even clean,” she said. 

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