Instead of simply turning on the faucet, imagine hiking for several miles just to obtain water.

That’s the reality for millions of people throughout the world, and that’s what a group of Pine-Richland High School students sort of experienced on the hot, cloudless afternoon of May 20.

Forty-plus members of the school’s community service-oriented Key Club took part in a Walk for Water by carrying gallon jugs of H2O four times around the Pine-Richland Stadium track, adding up to roughly 5,280 feet.

“I think we take for granted, really, how much access we have to everything and how many opportunities we have,” senior Emma Yaworski, this year’s Key Club president, said. “So it’s really nice to be part of an event like this and know that you’re really making a difference and impacting other people’s lives.”

Through pledges, the students raised money toward drilling a potable-water well in Wugladza, a village in the western African nation of Ghana. The Rich-Mar Rotary Club, which organized the walk, is another contributor.

“We wanted to do this to enlighten a lot of these high school students not to take for granted the water they have, and what some people have to do to get water,” Dave Hein, the club’s president-elect, said.

Supplementing the students and Rotarians is financial support by Ingomar Living Waters, based at Ingomar Church in Franklin Park, which has the mission of partnering with organizations worldwide to implement clean water solutions and sanitation facilities while providing education about hygiene.

Hope for Ghana, a Shadyside nonprofit dedicated to improving life in the impoverished country, is implementing the water-improvement project, one of more than two dozen the organization plans for 2023-24.

Prior to the Pine-Richland students starting their walk, Rotarian Gary Weston provided them with some perspective.

“It’s just to give you a tiny taste of what it’s like to walk and to carry water for a long distance,” he said. “Remember, you’re only carrying one gallon of water. Most of those people who go and fetch water are carrying four or five gallons.”

Considering only the weight of the water, that would be somewhere between 33 and 42 pounds.

For further frame of reference, Weston read a passage from Linda Sue Park’s book “A Long Walk to Water” by, which includes a fictional portrayal based on fact of an 11-year-old Sudanese girl named Nya:

The dirt under her feet turned to mud, then sludge, until at last she was ankle-deep in water.

Nya took the hollow gourd that was tied to the handle of the plastic container. She untied it; scooped up the brown, muddy water; and drank. It took two gourdfuls before she felt a little cooler inside.

Nya filled the container all the way to the top. Then she tied the gourd back in place and took the padded cloth doughnut from her pocket. The doughnut went on her head first, followed by the heavy container of water, which she would hold in place with one hand.

Nya knew that going home would take longer than coming had, but she might reach home by noon if all went well. Home for just long enough to eat, Nya now would make her second trip to the pond.

To the pond and back, to the pond and back, nearly a full day of walking altogether: This was Nya’s daily routine seven months of the year.

“Water makes life as we know it possible,” Weston told the students. “A person can live for about a month without food, but only about a week without water.”

As for the walk, the students made it a mile without any issues, some even running to the finish line. But the experience was an eye-opener for participants like junior Isabelle Brenner, who will serve as Key Club president next year:

“I think this is a really amazing opportunity to spread awareness, especially to our community, and to get people more involved in helping people all around the world.”

Harry Funk is a TribLive news editor, specifically serving as editor of the Hampton, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine Creek and Bethel Park journals. A professional journalist since 1985, he joined TribLive in 2022. You can contact Harry at