Blood:Water has had many-a-booth at festivals and events all around Nashville, but two weeks ago, our summer intern, Caroline Clark, and I had the opportunity to travel to New Hampshire to man a booth at Soulfest. Located in the picturesque mountains and lake region of Gilford, Soulfest draws thousands of attendees and is the largest Christian music festival in New England. This year, Jars of Clay was a part of the talented lineup, and Blood:Water was extended an invitation to join, as well!
Despite my experience as a Blood:Water representative (specifically at festivals), I noticed a distinct genuine nature of the attendees who approached our booth that was different from events past. Everything Caroline and I shared was heard; no one seemed to rush through their time with us, which is common when someone feels as though you may ask them for a contribution. People were engaging and cared about learning more about Blood:Water’s mission to partner with African organizations to end the water and HIV/AIDS crises. Attendees asked questions, and every conversation was dynamic.
Our sense of solidarity with Soulfest’s faith-based audience only grew, especially during the Walk4Water led by Dan Haseltine and Aaron Sands on Saturday. At the booth, we invited almost everyone we spoke with to join us for the reflective experience of mirroring the burden of walking for water that our friends in Africa must do daily for survival. We had over 70 people join us for the walk, during which participants walked a half mile to the closest stream to fill Home Depot buckets with the mucky water, and carried it back to the starting point.
The Walk4Water was the defining moment of our trip. Some people could only carry a bucket filled halfway, others struggled to keep the water from spilling. Some had to take multiple breaks to make it a half mile, others created a walking chain with friends and strangers to help carry the load. But everyone finished the walk knowing that Africans, mainly women and children, deserve so much more than to walk miles everyday to collect water that is most likely unclean and dangerous. It was an emotional moment of solidarity that none of the participants will soon forget.