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Sycamore walk raises money for Tanzania workshop project

SYCAMORE – Although she had the option to walk indoors, Teresa Gearhart stepped out into the gloomy weather to walk in support of Tanzanian women.

Gearhart, a member of the DeKalb County chapter of Homemakers Education Association, was among about 20 people who participated in the Women Walk the World event Tuesday at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, 1350 W. Prairie Drive, Sycamore. The event, organized by the HEA, raised money for a shop in Nyegina, Tanzania, where women will create clay water filters.

“It’s a good cause to support,” Gearhart said. “They need a lot of help.”

Just after the walk began, organizers raised about $500, or about 10 percent of the money needed to build the business shop in Nyegina. Ten percent of the money will go to the Associated Country Women of the World, an organization of which HEA is a member.

Mary Lu Strack, international director of DeKalb County’s HEA, walked indoors and outdoors. Walkers kept track of their steps by using a free Walgreens pedometer given to them before the walk.

“We thought everybody would want to walk inside, but they didn’t,” Strack said.

Participants ate soup and bread after walking. They also listened to a talk by Kurt Thurmaier, president of Tanzania Development Support, which is working with HEA to build the business shop.

Thurmaier has said the clay pots will be able to filter bacteria and other contaminants without boiling the water. Traditionally, women use firewood to boil water to purify it, which is one of the major causes of deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa, he said.

Pat Weitzmann drove from Antioch to support the cause. She serves on the state board for the Illinois Association for Home and Community Education, of which the county’s HEA is a part.

“The idea is just to bring attention to our local needs and the needs all over the world,” Weitzmann said.

Linda Jones also chose to walk outside during the event.

Jones understands the importance of the cause in Tanzania. Her son works for Food and Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that ensures food and water is safe for consumption and is accessible.

“Whenever I can do anything like this,” Jones said, “I try to do it.”

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