Samuel Irungu demonstrates what it would take to collect water from a well in Kenya during a visit to his home country last year. Courtesy of Samuel Irungu, World Vision

Clean water paramount in underdeveloped countries

Samuel Irungu knows how important clean water is.

The web developer for the Federal Way-based U.S. World Vision spent the bulk of his childhood walking miles to collect it in Kenya.

“Your mom or dad is expecting you to look for water to benefit the household,” Irungu said. “Cooking, cleaning – name anything you think water does.”

Irungu said it affected the way he and his family did things and the way they lived in their village. Often, fresh water wasn’t available in Kenya’s Rift Valley, where they lived. When water was available, there was no guarantee it was clean.

Now, the Renton resident has come full circle.

Irungu is training for World Vision’s Global 6k for Water May 6 at Seattle’s Gas Works Park. The event will raise money for clean water in underdeveloped countries.

“The Global 6k for Water for me is very personal,” he said. “I say personal because images flush, it just jogs my mind like yesterday. When I was going to school, being this guy who don’t have shoes and have to walk to go get water, when I see that, I remember how it feels and … [want] to turn things around for the better.”

According to World Vision, 650 million people don’t have access to clean water. In Uganda, it’s closer to one in every three people.

Irungu came to realize how much of life he missed after seeing piped water flow freely from the sink once he attended high school.

“One of the things I grew up knowing is you don’t misuse water,” he said.

Irungu then attended a university in Nairobi studying education science, mathematics and computers for a bachelor’s degree in education science. Before he moved to the United States and attended Eastern Oregon University, he was a high school computer teacher in Kenya.

“Moving to the U.S., water is flowing, and living in the Northwest, water is flowing,” he said.

Irungu said he appreciates seeing what U.S. local authorities do to keep water clean and hopes everyone on an international level can help donate $50 toward the construction of infrastructure and pipelines for clean water projects.

“It’s a meaningful way to spend time with family,” Irungu said about the 6k. “Sponsor a child in a personal way to show love to a child in need.”

For more information, visit www.teamworldvision.org.