Published on Friday, November 18, 2016 by Hannah Broussard
A young boy crawls out of bed before dawn, puts his bare feet on the rocky ground, and starts his treacherous 2.3 mile journey to get clean water. As he fumbles through the darkness, his body begins to ache and beads of sweat form on his brow. When he finally reaches his destination, he fills a large jug with water and then takes the same, long journey back, but this time with jug in hand. There are adults and children in Guatemala that are suffering and dying from diseases every day due to drinking contaminated water because the process to get clean water is so strenuous.
Senior Cassie Soto experienced some of this first hand and created the Walk for Water campaign where participants could walk four laps around the track and donate some loose change to make a difference in the lives of Guatemalans hundreds of miles away.
“I went on a medical mission trip to Guatemala last spring break and I got to see all of the people who were in need and had certain diseases or health problems because of the lack of clean water,” senior Cassie Soto said. “We had been telling them to drink more water and that would solve a lot of their problems, but the real problem is that they didn’t have the water to drink and that’s what inspired me to organize Walk For Water.”
Cassie returned home inspired and moved by the people of Guatemala. After witnessing first hand people who had difficulty getting water, an essential in life, Cassie came up with the idea to organize Walk For Water, an event that raised $3,000 to buy a cistern to be built in Guatemala.
“The goal was to raise $2,000 to build the cistern in Guatemala,” Cassie said. “Also, I wanted to help the people of my community learn more about how much of a blessing they have every day just by having clean water in the faucet always available to them.”
In order to help the people of the community become educated on how to conserve water, Cassie got businesses involved. Bryan Utilities, an organization from Texas A&M called Wine to Water, and Xylem a water conservation company all came to the event and set up booths to share what they do in order to conserve water.
“We had a couple booths set up and people went to each booth before they started their walk to learn more about water conservation,” Cassie said. “When participants finished with those booths, they picked up a jug of water and walked at least four times around the track.”
As the participants carried the water around the track, they experienced some of the hardships Guatemalans go through every day. Going through the same experience helped them relate to the people in need and understand the severity of the problem.
“We had to carry the water for a long way,” senior Mackenzie Jones said. “The fact that they carry it every day like that helps us realize what they go through and have a better sense of understanding how difficult it is for them to have clean water.”
Originally Cassie had organized this walk to allow others in the community to learn, but in the end Cassie ended up learning more than she could ever imagine while also growing as a person.
“The project taught me to not take the water and all the blessings that I have for granted,” Cassie said. “It was also a learning experience because it pulled me out of my comfort zone. I grew as a person because the event taught me to not be so nervous about certain things.”
The process of preparing for the walk consisted of multiple phone calls, meetings, and interviews. This interaction with adults was something that Cassie was not used to and challenged her character.
“I had to go to HEB to talk to the lady, fill out forms to get donations for the popsicles that we got, and do a lot of over the phone interviews with newspapers and radio stations. That was nerve racking,” Cassie said. “I’m a social person with people I know or who are my age, but I have a difficult time talking to adults, so being in charge of something like the organization of Walk For Water gave me a lot of anxiety because I had to talk to so many people.”
On top of the responsibility Cassie originally had placed on her, a small accident occurred, putting even more on her plate.
“My little sister fell down the hill and broke her arm, so my mom had to leave to go to the clinic to get her splint,” Cassie said. “My mom was gone for more than half the event, so I had to direct everything by myself.”
Although Cassie faced minor setbacks, she overcame them, and the Walk for Water was a success. Cassie and the others that were in attendance left the walk with a changed mindset.
“The event went really well,” senior Annie Lafon said. “There were a lot more people than I was expecting, which was impressive. I learned that I shouldn’t take the simple things in life for granted because not everyone has easy access.”
Overall, Cassie thought the turnout for Walk For Water was great and believes she made the impact that she had hoped to make. She touched the lives of many people in the Bryan/College Station area and she will improve the lives of many in Guatemala.