First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, PA, created a “Water Walk for Malawi” team this year for the first time, raising more than $1,300 to support the efforts of Villages in Partnership (VIP) to help those in Malawi obtain clean, life-giving water. While VIP holds an annual Water Walk for Malawi, this year the Water Walk went “virtual” and included an online event the evening of May 16 celebrating total donations of more than $202,000, with more teams in more locations raising more money than ever before.
The Water Walk is much like the more well-known CROP Walk, in which people take to the streets to raise funds and awareness of hunger and to show solidarity with people who must walk for water, school, work, etc. People often walk with buckets in the Water Walk to show solidarity with their neighbors in Malawi.
With the coronavirus pandemic restricting outdoor events, people wanting to participate in the “Water Walk” in 2020 had to get creative. For instance, FPCA member Dianne Kareha decided to walk around the Luther Crest Senior Living Community Campus with a water jug and a sign explaining what she was doing. Dianne, who had also been to Malawi two years prior to experience the living conditions and see firsthand the water situation there, also sent emails to family and friends asking for their support of the Water Walk for Malawi.
During the three weeks leading up to the May 16 event, FPCA included on its Facebook page and in its midweek “Mission Matters” eblasts an invitation to be part of its Water Walk team effort. FPCA also announced the virtual Water Walk and showed the short VIP video during its online English, Arabic and Chin Burmese Sunday services. The results of the Water Walk were then shared with the congregation through a midweek “Mission Matters” eblast following the VIP celebration event.
FPCA has had a long-standing relationship with VIP and its neighbors in Malawi, and the congregation has raised more than $100,000 since 2011 to support VIP’s mission “to build partnerships between villages in the developed world and villages in Malawi to bring about life-changing development for all.” VIP works “with local development experts in Malawi to implement programs designed to simultaneously address the inter-connected web of root causes of extreme poverty – lack of access to clean water, food insecurity, poor health care, inadequate education, insufficient infrastructure and lack of economic opportunities.”
FPCA sponsored its first Friendship Trip to Malawi with VIP in August of 2011. Every Advent since then, FPCA has offered Alternative Giving opportunities to support VIP’s mission in Malawi.