Image Description: Five people standing, distanced from each other, along a canal in Oxford. They are each wearing charity: water T-shirts.
The OxForWater campaign organised a semi-virtual running event and raised more than £3,000 for charity: water, a non-profit organisation which works to increase access to clean water in rural and isolated regions.
More than 50 participants hailing from five continents participated in the 10-day event, raising double the organisers’ initial target. The funds will enable more than 100 people to get access to clean water.
A team of five students organized the event after noticing a funding gap for critical projects like bio-filters for water treatment, drilled wells, and rainwater catchments as a result of development implications from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to OxForWater, one in ten people globally still do not have access to clean drinking water. The campaign decided to dedicate a fundraising challenge to address this issue, while also aiming to bring students together amid the pandemic and offering an opportunity for participants to improve their health.
OxForWater said they matched runners with partners to safely meet new peers outside, setting up an outdoor running route with posters for encouragement along Oxford’s canals. The participants tracked their runs using Strava and were challenged to set a running distance goal and a fundraising goal. Mini-challenges were also set “to encourage participation and creativity”.
Many participants achieved their goals – one ran their first marathon during the event, while another ran 126 kilometres over the 10-day period. According to the organizer, some participants even reported mental health and sleep benefits.
Asked if there are any plans to continue OxForWater in the future, organiser Jeremy Shroud told The Oxford Student, “If there’s enough interest and we return to normalcy, I would love to work on another event in the Autumn. We are also glad to ‘pass the reins’ and social media following we’ve gained to another group of students for next year as we are all graduating this year. The beauty of this type of event is that it can be enjoyed by likeminded individuals anywhere in the world!”
“The OxForWater challenge is something we won’t forget from our time at Oxford. We learned about solidarity as well as promoting health, and charity during a difficult time.”
charity: water is a New York-based non-profit organization that brings drinking water to people in developing nations. The charity claims to send 100% of public donations to sustainable water projects in areas of greatest need, working with local partners to implement them. It has raised more than $496m since its inception and claims to have served more than 11 million people through 59,000 water projects across 29 countries.
785 million people live without clean water. The majority live in isolated rural areas and spend hours each day walking to collect water. This means a lack of access to sanitary water which increases the risk of waterborne diseases. Time wasted collecting water has a particularly large impact on women and the education of children.
Image provided to The Oxford Student by Jeremy Stroud