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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Student-led walk spreads awareness about water inaccessibility in Kenya

The Hawk News
Participants walk as part of the Magis for Maji Walk, March 22. PHOTO: MADELINE WILLIAMS ’26/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s first annual Magis for Maji was held March 22 on World Water Day.

The event was a partnership between The Beautiful Social Research Collaborative (BSocial) and Water is Life Kenya, a nonprofit dedicated to providing clean water, sanitation and income-generating opportunities to the Maasai community in southern Kenya.

Women in Kenya are traditionally assigned the job of collecting water and must walk an average of five miles a day, a journey that takes six to 10 hours, to access water. This prevents Kenyan girls from receiving an education, as they have to carry water home or watch their house while their mothers are out collecting water. 

To show solidarity with Kenyan women and girls, about 40 participants walked together around the perimeter of the Hawk Hill campus. 

Ashley Radell ’24, a consultant for BSocial who helped plan and execute the walk, said the walk was titled “Magis for Maji” to unite the St. Joe’s and Kenyan communities. The word “magis” is a key term in Ignatian spirituality, meaning “more.” “Maji” is the Swahili word for water. 

Radell said she hopes those who attended the walk recognize how important the basic human right of water is and don’t take their access to clean water for granted. 

For an admission fee of $15, participants received custom St. Joe’s bracelets handmade by the Maasai people, a semi-nomadic group located in Kenya and Tanzania. All money collected will be used to fund clean water projects.

Aimée Knight, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and media studies and director of BSocial, said she’s proud of the collaboration between her BSocial students and Water is Life Kenya.

“[The bracelets are] tangible proof of our global partnership and students’ transformative learning through community engagement,” Knight wrote in response to written questions to The Hawk.

Among the walk’s participants was St. Joe’s President Cheryl A. McConnell, Ph.D., who said she attended the walk to support the St. Joe’s community and serve the university’s mission.

“The St. Joe’s community understands that it’s more than words, that actions matter,” McConnell said. “And this is an example of a student organization and a program and a major putting words into action. And I want to support that.” 

BSocial is a program in the department of communication and media studies.

Aaron Lemma ’20, Outreach & Operations Manager at Water is Life Kenya, speaks to participants at the Magis for Maji Walk, March 22. PHOTO: MADELINE WILLIAMS ’26/THE HAWK

Aaron Lemma ’20, outreach and operations manager for Water is Life Kenya, said it’s important that solidarity goes beyond standing in unity and “[turns] into something.” He liked the idea of the walk, which involves movement and connects participants to the journey of Kenyans who walk every day for water. 

“It’s like, just for a moment, to be moving in solidarity,” Lemma said, “and recognizing that some people don’t have the privileges we have, and maybe there actually is something we can do to solve it.” 

Carsen Vespe ’24, a BSocial fellow who attended the event, said a takeaway she had from the walk was that St. Joe’s students are capable of making a difference.

“I think just being here is able to really spark transformative change within our community and share the message and promote Water is Life Kenya’s mission about the women’s walk to get clean water,” Vespe said. 

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Hannah Pajtis
Hannah Pajtis, News Editor
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