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Fundraiser to support project in Tanzania

Published: Thursday, May 8, 2014 11:42 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, May 8, 2014 11:53 p.m. CST

SYCAMORE – Every time Kurt Thurmaier returns to the United States from Tanzania, the first thing he does is pour himself a glass of clean, safe water.

That’s something he said people in Tanzania are unable to do. Thurmaier, president of Tanzania Development Support, is involved in an effort to change that.

“People in DeKalb County take clean, safe water for granted,” he said. “We need people here to realize [the conditions in Tanzania are] just wrong. They have a chance to help.”

The Homemakers Education Association of DeKalb County, which is working with TDS, will hold a Women Walk the World fundraiser at 10 a.m. Tuesday at DeKalb County Farm Bureau’s Center for Agriculture, 1350 W. Prairie Drive, Sycamore.

Participants will start their 2-mile walk at the farm bureau and continue along the nearby path to raise funds for a business shop in Nyegina, Tanzania, in which women will create clay water filters. Walkers may choose to walk whatever distance they desire.

Walkers will receive a free pedometer from Walgreens. Donations are not required, but organizers need to raise about $5,000 to build the shop.

TDS is a DeKalb-based organization that works to develop poverty-stricken Tanzanian communities. The nonprofit organization held a Water Walk event April 24 to raise funds to build a library in Nyegina.

Mary Lu Strack, international director of HEA, said her organization decided to become involved with TDS after learning women in Nyegina wanted an income-generating activity while men studied at the library.

Strack said six people participated in HEA’s walk last year and raised $60.

“The goal is to help women and girls,” Strack said. “Clean water is important for everybody in this part of Tanzania. The water comes from mountains, so it’s fairly clean, but has bacteria in it.”

Traditionally, women use firewood to boil water in order to purify it, a method that is one of the major causes of deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa, Thurmaier said. The clay pot filters contaminants in water like bacteria without boiling.

“Girls walk 45 minutes each way to get water for their families,” Thurmaier said. “If they have filters, they could take water that is not so great and use a filter to cut down on walks to get water.”

For more information, visit tdsnfp.org.

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