Compassion Canada

August 01, 2012 07:00 ET

Ontario Woman to Swim Lake Ontario to Raise Funds for Africa

Waves for Water

LONDON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 1, 2012) - 45 kilometres. That's how far Michele Benoit will swim across Lake Ontario to raise awareness and funds for clean water for children in Africa.

Benoit, a holistic nutritionist who resides in Burlington, Ontario, has been swimming since she was 3 and water has always been a big part of her life-from swimming competitively to coaching others to managing aquatics facilities. Because water is so central to her own life, the lack of clean water that so many children in the developing world face is a cause close to her heart. More than 3.5 million people die each year from water related diseases. Benoit's swim will not only raise awareness of this issue but will also help raise funds to build wells for children in Africa, beginning with Togo.

Togo is a small nation in West Africa in which only 18 to 33 percent of people have access to clean water in the Golfe and Kangnikopé regions, according to the International Monetary Fund. Compassion International's child development centres in these regions face cholera outbreaks, persistent parasites in the children and a lack of knowledge of basic hygiene. The wells where water is drawn are contaminated and overcrowded. The funds raised by Benoit's swim will help provide wells, water tanks, hand-washing stations, training on maintenance of the facilities, and hygiene education at Compassion's partner churches. Hundreds of children will gain access to clean water-and the knowledge of how to keep themselves healthy.

The marathon swim across Lake Ontario is reputed to be one of the toughest swimming challenges in the world. Swimmers face tempestuous weather and chilling waves on this long trek. But Benoit knows her effort will help address one of the root causes of poverty for children in Africa.

This focus on the root causes of poverty is what drew Benoit to Compassion's ministry. She first learned about Compassion at her church and did some research on her own. She learned of "Kaitlin's Legacy" and was inspired to join the cause. Kaitlin Boyda was only 15 when her family found out she had a cancerous brain tumour. Instead of asking for something for herself, Kaitlin chose to donate her wish from the Children's Wish Foundation to build wells for children in Africa. She passed away last year at 17, after inspiring thousands of people around the world to help kids all across Africa get clean water. Benoit wants to carry on Kaitlin's legacy.

"I felt that if I could help to keep her wish alive in some way, it would be an honour to be a part of that," says Benoit. "The bottom line for me is that it's not really about the swim-it's about how the swim can champion the cause."

Benoit's swim will take place on August 17-19, 2012 and she hopes to complete it in 16 hours, making waves for clean water for children in need. For more information on Michele's swim or to donate, visit www.compassion.ca/wavesforwater.

About Compassion

Compassion International has partnered with the local church in the developing world to bring an eternal solution to poverty into the lives of children since 1952. Today, Compassion Canada and its international partners work with over 5,000 churches in 26 nations to bring care to more than one million children and families.

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