MADISON (WKOW) -- The African Association of Madison has hosted Africa Fest for more than a decade. The festival serving as an educational tool showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Africa.
It's a day of celebration full of music, dancing, food and so much more. This year's theme is "SANFOKA -- Back to our Roots."
The event, showcasing the influence of African immigrants on modern day American culture. The festival started in Madison back in 1998 and continues to grow each year.
Aggo Akyea, president of the African Association of Madison says, "We felt a need for all of us Africans to come together, invite our neighbors, invite the community to learn about Africa from us. Sing with us, dance with us, eat our foods."
In it's second year is a fundraising event called Strides for Africa. It's a 5k run walk that kicks off Africa fest.
Chris Jimieson organized the event after a trip to rural Ethiopia in 2009. He went to adopt his son and came home with a new perspective on life.
Chris Jimieson, Strides for Africa organizer, says, "he was six months old and we went to meet his birth mother one day and so we drove four hours across rural Ethiopian countryside and it was a lot of time, you just sit and look out the window and see a life I hadn't seen in my life before.))
Jimieson saw first hand how water in Ethiopia is a major problem. Statistics show just one in ten people have access to clean water and 1 in 5 children in rural Ethiopia die before the age of 5 due to water bourne illness.
Akyea says, "surprisingly, just a thousand dollars is enough to dig a well and provide clean water in rural Ethiopia."
Last year they raised enough money to fully fund a well and this year the hope is to raise enough for a second one.
Jimieson says, "the well is going to serve between 300-350 people over the next 20-25 years which is a huge impact for just 125 participants last year."
With the help of these runners and walkers, Jimieson's goal of helping these children half way around the world is slowly becoming a reality one stride at a time.
Jimieson says, "the smiles on people's faces, when I see them using this water well and thinking about the fact they don't have to walk four miles a day and carry 40 pounds of water each day. It really this home and it's very satisfying to not only myself but all the participants in Strides for Africa."
All proceeds from this year's run/walk will benefit A Glimmer of Hope Foundation based in Austin Texas. They're ranked 7th in the world in terms of the foundation's effectiveness and impact because 100 percent of their funds go to projects in Ethiopia.
For those unable to attend the event, but would like to donate to the cause, or for those that click here.
To learn more about Africa Fest and the African Association of Madison click here.