Priest running 85 miles to bring water to Malawi communities

AP

A priest in the Archdiocese of Armagh is aiming to run more than 85 miles in four days next month in aid of a Lent campaign to bring clean water to communities in Malawi.

Fr Gerry Campbell will run from Bann to Boyne from 6 to April 9 to raise funds for Trócaire's Lenten campaign after being inspired by a visit to Malawi in January. Donations to Trócaire are being matched pound for pound by the UK Government.

During his visit, he met a nine-year-old girl called Enestina who used to have to get up each morning at 5am and walk with her mother to fetch water for their family of six. There was often a long queue, the water was dirty, and the whole effort would take around two hours.

Enestina started carrying water when she was six-years-old and was often late for school because of it. She told Fr Campbell that she did not like carrying it because it was far to walk and heavy to carry, and gave her neck pains.

Her mother, who spent at least four hours a day fetching water, also did not like it. She knew that the water was dirty and diseased but said they had no choice to fetch from there because it was the only source they had.

Last year, their lives changed when Trócaire installed a drinking water pump in the village.

"I was privileged to visit Malawi ahead of the Lenten campaign, which is focusing on the global water crisis, to meet some of the communities Trócaire works with and hear first-hand the problems people are facing there," said Fr Campbell.

The pump is meeting around half of the community's water needs but Fr Campbell says there are queues and it is being over-used.

"The pump has helped but has not solved all of the village's problems," he said.

Father Gerry is hoping people here at home will get behind his fundraising run. "I know the four days of running will be a challenge but I feel it is the least I can do to help support the wonderful work Trócaire does on our behalf overseas.

"I have seen the difference this support makes with my own eyes and it's important that I spread the message that we can all make a difference as individuals."

People interested in sponsoring Father Campbell's efforts or taking part in the run can email him at gerry-campbell65@gmail.com or Peter McLoughlin at Trócaire at pmcloughlin@trocaire.ie.

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