by Betty Weibel
This fall, Katie Spotz, who set a world record in March 2010 as the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 70 days, embarked on another adventure to Kenya. Named one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year in 2010, Spotz raised more than $150,000 and increased global awareness of the lack of clean drinking water for millions of people during her 3,038-mile Atlantic Ocean row and a team bicycle race across America in June 2011.
On her journey to Kisii, Kenya, she’ll see firsthand how funds she raised are helping to provide safe drinking water to 5,000 individuals and families in that rural community. During the month-long trip, the Mentor, Ohio native will spend time with Aqua Clara International (ACI), a nonprofit organization that provides the technology and training to help provide safe, affordable drinking water for families and individuals who subsist on less than $2 per day.
Spotz will participate in constructing Aqua Clara’s first community-sized water treatment system alongside local people and ACI staff. During her visit she will also assist in building a rainwater tank for a local school. The Kenya trip will also include visiting households that have purchased locally constructed water filters. In addition to providing access to safe drinking water, Spotz will see how rain water harvesting, school based water and hygiene clubs, and innovative ecological sanitation solutions are making a difference to the health of school children and communities in Kenya.
“I want to see for myself, and ultimately, be able to share with contributors, how the donations are making a difference in people’s lives,” Spotz said. “For every $30 donated, there’s someone who will be able to enjoy safe drinking water for life. That’s a pretty amazing return on investment.”
During her visit, Spotz will see local students participate in Aqua Clara Water and Hygiene Club activities. Students from local schools will participate in competitions and put on short dramas, sing songs and receive prizes to promote topics such as hand washing and water treatment. These simple messages can make a huge improvement in the health of surrounding communities.
For more information, visit www.aquaclara.org.