One woman creates a ripple in bringing clean water to impoverished communities

by Kristy J. O'Hara on January 3, 2018

Johgina Densmore has completed 6K walks with World Vision to raise money for clean water for children in Africa. (©2016 photo courtesy Johgina Densmore)

As Johgina Densmore walked along Lake Michigan on a bitter November day in 2014, 20-mph winds pelted the lake water at her, repeatedly stinging her face.

But the fierce winds would not deter her and her best friends from finishing their walk in Chicago. Too much was riding on them finishing — they were walking a 6K with World Vision to bring clean water to children and families in Africa who walk the same distance every day to get dirty, contaminated water.

“It was God who got me through those 20-mph winds on the lake,” 52-year-old Johgina says.

Despite not being a runner, when Johgina learned about the lack of access to clean water many families face, she signed up for the 6K event with Team World Vision to raise money to do something about it. And in two-and-a-half years since that race against the harsh winds, her first step has multiplied into thousands — all making a difference in the lives of children halfway across the world.

“My life has changed regarding water,” Johgina says. “I was ignorant to the lack of clean water. Just to think that there are kids that don’t have access to clean water, and the water they do have access to is dirty and contaminated, it’s made me more self-conscious. I try to share this as much as I can and share the awareness so others’ eyes can be opened too.”

Gathering friends

Johgina already was making an impact on a community in Kenya by sponsoring a child with World Vision. But when she first heard about the 6K in 2014, despite knowing the need so many faced in the world, because of her sponsorship she was shocked to learn how many people don’t have access to clean water.

“When the 6K came up, and they were talking about providing clean water to kids in Africa, I was like ‘What? Everybody has clean water!’” she says. “But in my naiveté, I didn’t know.”

She learned that her entry fee would help provide clean water for one person, and it inspired her to take the first step and join the event as a walker.

“I am not a runner. I am a zero runner. I walk, jog, walk — and my jog is just a little faster than my walk,” Johgina says with a laugh.

She convinced her best friend, who competes as a triathlete, to join too and walk with her on that cold November day. The two finished, feeling empowered.

Steps multiplying

Johgina’s steps began to multiply in 2015 when she shared what she’d learned about water with friends from church and work. They were inspired to join her in the 2015 6K — this time during a warmer month. That year, about 15 of her friends participated with her.

In 2016, Johgina felt God calling her to do even more, so she decided to captain a team and asked her pastor if they could announce it in church. Johgina says, “He had just a little bit of competition in his spirit, and he said, ‘This is what we’re doing, and we want to have the largest team — let’s sign up because of what this cause is; it’s phenomenal.’”

People stepped up, no matter their circumstances. One man didn’t even have proper shoes for the event, but she assured him he was going to be fine.

“He just really understood the value of walking the 6K,” she says. “We have to be able to do what the Bible tells us. Christ says, ‘I was in prison, and you came to see me, I was hungry, and you fed me, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.’ We have to live those Scriptures.”

On race day, Johgina and a team of more than 150 people walked and ran the Global 6K’s 3.7 miles together — a far cry from that first race she walked with just one friend along Lake Michigan. On race day, Johgina made an even bigger impact by deciding to sponsor another child: a little girl from Kenya named Dorcas, whose picture was on her race bib.

Creating ripples

In 2017, Johgina multiplied her steps even more, recruiting family and friends to join her.

“You don’t have to be a runner to make an impact,” she tells them. “You can make an impact just by walking. If you jog, you jog. If you run, that’s great. You have to look at the bigger picture.

“This may sound cliché, but people need to know they can be the pebble that’s thrown across the water. People think a pebble can’t make an impact, but it creates ripples, and the 6K can do that. They have to see themselves creating ripples and giving back.”

Join our free webinar and learn about the Global 6k for Water, a fun and simple way your congregation can engage their community AND make huge kingdom impact for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

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