Bishop Arthur joined students from Leeds High schools as they began CAFOD’s ‘Walk for Water’ on World Water Day, Thursday 22nd March. Gathered in the sunshine at Granary Wharf, the Bishop prayed with the students and blessed them as they set off. He encouraged them by reminding them that in walking as an act of solidarity, they were doing something very important. Just as important was to mark the event by starting in prayer and reminding ourselves of how precious God’s gift of water is. (Photo by Patrick Sice)
The Walk for Water took place as part CAFOD’s ‘Give it Up’ Lenten Appeal, and covered 6 km along the canal bank from Granary Wharf to Kirkstall Abbey. The students took turns to carry nine litres of water in solidarity with many young people their age, mostly girls who have to carry heavy loads of water every day. Almost a billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water.
The schools that took part were Cardinal Heenan High School, St Mary’s, Menston, All Saints Huddersfield, Holy Family Carlton, Holy Family Keighley, St. Thomas a Becket Wakefield, St Joseph’s College, Bradford . Accompanying the students was Katy Harris from CAFOD’s Campaigns team. Katy had visited CAFOD communities in Zimbabwe and Zambia where water programmes are transforming lives.
When the students arrived at Kirkstall Abbey they took part in a prayer service during which Katy shared stories about the people she met and stressed the urgent need to provide safe water and sanitation. The students then wrote their own messages and prayers of hope as part of our ‘Thirst for Change campaign. Recognising the strong track record the UK has in supporting international development, CAFOD is now asking David Cameron to call on world leaders at the G8 summit in May to turn the tide on water poverty.
Meanwhile across Leeds Diocese, many of our primary schools were joining in by ‘walking for water’ in their own grounds and by holding an assembly thanking God for the gift of water. Many also came up with creative ides to help children understand the impact the lack of clean water and sanitation has.
Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, said: “CAFOD is working to improve water access, sanitation and hygiene for some of the world’s most vulnerable and neglected people, including those affected by war, climate change and disease. It is potentially life saving work, tackling cholera, helping girls attend school rather than having to fetch water and ensuring that children know about hygiene and waterborne diseases.
“By matching pound for pound all public donations, the UK Government will help CAFOD double its impact, ensuring tens of thousands more families have access to clean water and sanitation and are provided with everything from water purification kits and soap to training in how to fix a broken borehole.”