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Area teen organizes Northampton hike to raise money for clean water efforts in impoverished countries

  • Participants in the 2016 “Hike For What’s Right” take on the trail. Seraphina Forman, a 14-year-old student at The Academy at Charlemont, is organizing the event this year. Courtesy of Seraphina Forman



@HughesMorgan_
Thursday, April 20, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — A 14-year-old budding activist is at it again, planning on hoofing it for clean water this weekend.

Saraphina Forman, a student at The Academy at Charlemont, organized her third annual Hike For What’s Right event at Mineral Hills Conservation Area to raise money for the nonprofit organization known as “charity: water.”

Emily Kumpel, an assistant professor with the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, kicks off the 10 a.m. trek with a talk on water quality and sanitation in developing countries.

Forman has raised almost $1,000 for charity: water. The proceeds collected from attendance fees of $10 a person and $25 per family are donated directly to the nonprofit, which Forman said uses 100 percent of donations in the field.

Forman began her philanthropy effort work in the fourth grade, walking dogs and doing chores around the neighborhood to raise money for different groups. In sixth grade, she organized her first hike, and donated the proceeds to Rainforest Trust, a preservation organization. In seventh grade, the proceeds also went to charity: water.

Forman is looking to better the quality of life for the 1 in 10 people — or 663 million — who don’t have access to clean water, according to charity: water.

“I think that water is such a staple to humanity. Without it, there’s so much in life that is limited,” she said. “When clean water is provided, it changes the whole world.”

Forman said that monetary donations are especially effective in aiding the drinking water crisis in developing countries, because it goes toward digging wells, and buying equipment and tools that can help test and sanitize water in a community. She added that the effects are not limited to human health, but have a comprehensive impact on the quality of life of a community.

“It sets off a ripple of effects,” she said. “Once someone has clean water to drink, they are not getting sick as much and they’re able to be in school to work more, and when they’re not spending all those hours walking to get that water, their life is not as restrained, and even their emotional health improves.”

Forman said she is aware of the privilege of growing up in an area where she can turn on the faucet and fill a cup with clean water. She describes it is a fortune, not a choice.

“That made me realize I can’t take any of it for granted, and makes me want to change it,” she said. “It just as easily could have been us.”

Forman runs the show for the hikes. She contacts media outlets and sponsors, including River Valley Co-op, Big Y Foods, Inc., Sweeties Fine Chocolate and Confections, Rigali and Walder Orthodontics, Boho Chocolate and Collective Copies. She built a website and edited a promotional video using some of charity: water’s footage. She has the support of her parents, the community and her school.

“Everyone has the potential to do something, so I really wanted to use that potential I have,” Forman said.

For more information or to register for the event, head to www.hikeforwhatsright.com.

Interested community members also can email hikeforwhatsright@gmail.com.