Lugging gallons of water through Hobbema on a hot day is helping fund a borehole in the Lundazi region of Zambia.
After spending months last year in Zambia as part of an internship program, Ashley Dennehy came back to Alberta with a drastically changed outlook on life and several projects following the same theme; empowering women and children and promoting self-sustainability.
On July 19 Dennehy led an organized Walk for Water fundraiser through Hobbema. Pledges and donations totalling $4,233 will go toward the well.
“Basically we’re just simulating a walk for what woman and children do every day in Africa,” said Dennehy.
Supporters came out to walk from the traffic lights near the Samson Cree Tribal Administration building to the Ermineskin Mall, where anything from milk jugs to water cooler bottles were filled and carried back again.
Dennehy believes holding the walk will not only benefit those in the Lundazi region who will use the well but the participants and Hobbema as well. “We’re often perceived as a population on high income support and we’re not thinking globally.”
“I think that by simulating a walk they’re going to feel understood . . . That we do care for them even though we don’t know them,” she added. Dennehy began getting the permits for the walk in May. “I knew I wanted to do it along the highway and people said no, do it on the side roads and I said no, no one will notice us. I want to do this and I want to do it big.”
Dennehy’s sister, Allyson, also participated in the walk and looked with pride upon the community where she grew up. “It makes it really hard for Hobbema when we don’t even have clean drinking water ourselves.”
“I’m extremely proud. I didn’t think this many people would come out. It’s like other people said, why would we help people across the world when we have our own problem? It’s the global picture.”
Emily Low was inspired by Dennehy and her ability to bring the message and the problem to the home front.
“I grew up in Ponoka, so it’s pretty close to Hobbema. It hits pretty close to home. It means a lot more when you can bring something home.” She explained by having people participate in the simulation and better understanding and empathy can be achieved.
Gary Bosgoed, senior vice president of Worley Parsons, a resources and energy company based in Edmonton, also came to walk the walk.
Bosgoed decided to have the company team up with Dennehy and the Samson Cree Nation after reading about her Africa trip in Ponoka News. He read about her plans to raise money for the well and knew she’d need more than the original $500 estimate for a pump.
“We said we’ve got to find her,” said Bosgoed.
Worley Parsons matched the initial $2,116.50 raised at the walk. However, his biggest focus wasn’t the donation Worley Parsons would make. It was the well as a finished product and the experiences Dennehy and other participants of the project would gain.
As a long-term plan, Bosgoed, an aboriginal who grew up in Saskatchewan, wants to build a relationship with the Samson Cree Nation that will enable him to employ more First Nation workers. “We want to hire Canadians. We think it’s the best resources; First Nations, aboriginal communities.”