ACU students hope to raise enough money to build two water wells in Zambia in a competitive Race for Water run Saturday.
The second annual race is a class project for the Politics in Developing Countries class, taught by Dr. Neil Coates, associate professor of political science.
All entry fees for the 10k, 5k and one-mile fun run will be donated to build wells in the northwestern part of Zambia for the Kaonda tribe. Each well costs around $1,500, so the class needs to raise a total of $3,000 for the construction of two wells.
“Water is a huge resource for people to have,” said Brittany Partridge, junior political science major from Annandale, Minn. “It’s kind of like a string effect.”
Partridge said a lack of clean water leads to disease and sickness, which in turn can hinder an individual’s educational opportunities. The current lifespan in northwestern Zambia is 38 years.
Coates said several wells have been dug in the area in the past few years, but more help is still needed. Coates, who has been involved in Hillcrest Church of Christ’s mission work in Zambia, said he wants his students to realize humanitarian efforts should benefit both the physical and spiritual well-being of those in need.
“They can know the ultimate result is not just helping people live longer but helping people to change their souls,” Coates said. “Numerous studies have shown that organizations interested in the ultimate salvation of a person do a much better job of providing things that people need in their everyday lives.”
Partridge said organizing the event has inspired the class to action.
“Instead of just learning about something, we are taking initiative to do something about it,” Partridge said.
The race coincides with the visit of Chief Mumena to Abilene. Mumena, the leader of the 100,000-plus Kaonda tribe in Zambia, spoke in Coates’ class and will attend the running events this weekend. Hillcrest Church of Christ is also holding a special dinner in honor of Mumena on Saturday night.
Partridge said she thinks Mumena’s presence will help make the need for clean water more personal for her and for her peers in Coates’ class.
The Race for Water 5k and 10k runs will begin at 8 a.m. at Hillcrest Church of Christ. The Fun Run is set to begin at 9:15 a.m. Participants can find registration prices and forms at www.abilenerunners.com/files/Race4waterForm.pdf, or register beginning at 7 a.m Saturday at the race site.