Africare News Release
Running for Clean Water on World Water Day
Washington, DC, March 26, 2009—In recognition of World Water Day, Africare, in partnership with Nehst Studios, Water Advocates, African Diaspora for Change and TransAfrica Forum participated in the screening of the acclaimed documentary “Running the Sahara.” Produced by Academy Award winner James Moll and executive produced and narrated by Academy Award winner Matt Damon, the documentary chronicles the 111 day, 4,300 mile trek of three runners – Charlie Engle (USA), Kevin Lin (Taiwan) and Ray Zahab (Canada) – who attempt to make history by running across Africa’s Sahara Desert.
“This documentary is an extraordinarily powerful testament to human endurance, both that of these three runners, but also that of the people who live in areas where scarce, fresh water – one of the lifelines of human existence – requires the greatest daily challenges imaginable,” Julius E. Coles, president of Africare remarked to the enthusiastic audience that filled the theater.
On the African continent over 340 million Africans lack access to clean, safe water and about 50 percent of all Africans suffer from at least one of six water-related diseases. Seeing the need first-hand on their nearly four-month run, the three extreme runners decided to do something about it at the end of their expedition. “I thought I would go back to Africa to build wells with a pick and a shovel, but I realized I could build them better with my mouth,” Engle who was present at the screening explained about his decision to create widespread public awareness of the water crisis in Africa and gather support for integrated sustainable clean water programs.
One of three organizations that benefited from the proceeds of the screening, Africare has worked in partnership with hundreds of rural communities in Africa for 39 years building wells, installing pumps, digging irrigation systems and building sanitation facilities. Africare also integrates access to clean water into all of its programs in health and HIV/AIDS; food security and agriculture; as well as emergency and humanitarian assistance.
Guests were treated to a prescreening reception and a question and answer session with Engle at the end of the film. Also in attendance were Ari Friedman, CEO of Nehst Studios, who are the sole distributors of the documentary; Julian Kiganda, Chair, African Diaspora for Change; Mwiza Munthali, Public Outreach Director, TransAfrica Forum; and Andra Tamburro, WASH Program Director, Water Advocates.
Africare is a leading non-profit organization specializing in African development aid. It is also the oldest and largest African-American led organization in that field. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $760 million in assistance and support — over 2,500 projects and millions of beneficiaries — to 36 countries Africa-wide. Africare has its international headquarters in Washington, DC, with field offices currently in some 23 African countries.