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April 22 walk to benefit water access in Ghana

According to the USGS Science School, the average American uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water each day.

Clean and accessible water is something most of us take for granted. For the citizens of Ghana, a West African country rampant with poverty, getting water each day involves up to a six-mile hike carrying a five-pound water bucket that weighs more than 40 pounds. Often, that water is contaminated and polluted as well.

It was out of concern for the plight of the people of Ghana that Ghana West Africa Missions (GWAM). The organization began out of a mission drive in a Michigan church, Traverse City Church of Christ, in 1987. A fund-raising effort garnered more than $85,000, enough to build 15 wells for people in northern Ghana to have water to drink, wash and cook with.

James Nipper, vice-president at Russellville-based Petro Chemical Energy, serves on the board of directors of GWAM. Since 1987, the organization's efforts have led to more than 1,000 new water wells and the refurbishment of 2,500 more in Ghana .

Nipper and his family, along with Ricky McWhorter and his family, will travel to Ghana next month on a 10-day mission trip. It will mark the second visit to west Africa for Nipper. McWhorter has traveled there 16 times since 2007.

McWhorter, a retired environmental scientist who worked for the State of Alabama, is the associate director of GWAM, which is based in Searcy, Ark.

McWhorter lives and works in Moulton.

GWAM will hold a fund raiser Sunday, April 22 in Florence. The event is called “A Walk in Her Shoes,” and will involve volunteer teams carrying five gallon buckets of water for one mile. McWhorter said the purpose of the fund raiser is twofold.

We want to accomplish two goals. First, to raise awareness of their poverty in the world. Second, we want give people the opportunity to make a difference, either through monetary donations or in-kind services,” McWhorter said.

Funds raised in the second annual walk will be used by GWAM to drill new wells in Ghana. McWhorter said last year's walk raised more than $12,000. The goal of this year's fund raiser is $20,000. A similar event in Moulton last year raised $10,000.

Having personally seen the benefits of his organization's work, McWhorter has a special appreciation for the support received by individuals and groups in the United States for GWAM.

One of the thrills of being able to raise funds here in the states is to see that well drilled and the smiles on those children's faces. It really changes your perspective on the world and what's really important and how fortunate and blessed we are in the United States,” McWhorter said.

McWhorter said the cost of drilling a well and getting it operational is approximately $7,000. Once complete, the average well provides water for 400-500 people in a community.

For more information on the April 22 event, to be held in Florence, log onto www.gwam.org and click “Find a Fundraiser.”


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