5K Run for Water: Bapst, Bangor, BARKA
Two years ago BARKA Foundation, together with Auguste Lompo, a friend from Burkina Faso, came to visit John Bapst High School, one of the top academic high schools in Maine. And so began a relationship with the Student Environmental Action Committee (SEAC) which invited Ina & I back the following year to address the entire assembly. At that time, sophomore Christina Long was so inspired to help the situation of the Burkinabe, particularly their lack of access to clean water, that she organized a letter writing campaign. She got the entire school body to sign a passionate letter asking for financial support which she sent copies of to local businesses. That set the stage for a walk for water in the spring which was merely a stepping stone to the larger community-wide, 1st Annual Peace, water & Wisdom Race/Walk held in Bangor on October 2, 2011. Two students, D.J. Brooks and Christina Long worked all summer on the organizational planning of this event including building a website, finding local sponsors, various authorizations from the town and police department, promotion and advertising. They did all this with very little help from BARKA Foundation. We were amazed at how self-sufficient these youngsters were. Once school started back up again in September, wider support was received by the entire SEAC team including the able guidance and wisdom of faculty advisors Chris Packard and Sarah Wilder.
Ina and I arrived back in Bangor from Williams College at about 2am. By 9:45am we were on the stage at Waterfront Park thanking the 100+ registrants for braving the weather and coming out in in the rain to support the people of Burkina Faso. We explained how often our walks for water yield rain- a blessing of confirmation and support of this work from the Other World. The event was flawless. The kids were impeccable in their implementation- timing the racers, handling food, beverages, raffles, gift prizes, t-shirts for registrants (special yellow ones for volunteers), thanking the many sponsors, and in showing everyone a really good time. WABI TV showed up, shot video and ran a story on the news. They even had live music, although a bagpipe player was the only musician who didn’t cancel. He was excellent… besides, what’s a multi-cultural fundraiser for Burkina Faso without the sound of bagpipes?
While walking I began to envision the possibility of having events like these in every state of the US, occurring at difference times or simultaneously. What a way to engage communities, schools and our nation’s youth in stepping up into their roles as leaders to be the change they wish to see in the world.
Elsewhere in Maine, on the same day, Rotarian Glen Niemy of Bridgton ran the Maine Marathon in Portland to raise funds for BARKA Foundation. Glen just turned 60 and overcame prostate cancer and arthritis in his knee to run this race. Although he had to stop after 23 miles, he’s still a champion in our eyes!