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Cary woman works with charity to provide clean water in Zambia

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:37 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 12, 2014 11:04 p.m. CDT

At age 25, Claudia Erickson’s daughter, Kara, who had severe juvenile diabetes, died after her body rejected a pancreatic transplant.

The juvenile diabetes suppressed Kara’s immune system and led her to easily get sick. One time Kara ingested water while swimming in a lake, and four hours later ended up in a critical care unit.

After Kara died, Claudia Erickson, a Cary resident, saw the need for clean water to consume and wanted to help others, so she started volunteering with Hands of Hope.

Over the years, the organization has helped build wells in villages in Zambia to help provide safe drinking water and keep people from needing to walk upwards of seven miles to a water source that may not be clean.

“Water is my passion,” Erickson said.

“If we put a well in the village, they can walk three-quarters of a mile and it’s clean water,” Erickson added.

It can cost $5,000 to put in a well for a village of 800 to 1,000 extremely poor people, 75 percent of whom are children, Erickson said.

Hands of Hope helps in other ways, too. The organization has helped build schools and provide loans for locals to start gardens, build homes and buy livestock.

The organization helps teach people how to grow a garden and how to get the food to a market to sell and create an income, Erickson said. The same concept also applies to livestock.

Hands of Hope has helped eliminate malnutrition in the village of Mawawa in the past three years, Erickson added, by helping people buy goats to provide milk, cheese and meat. Hands of Hope also is looking into providing loan money to introduce healthy pigs into villages.

“It’s really remote, we’re working with the poorest of the poor,” Erickson said.

To help pay for the philanthropic endeavors, Hands of Hope puts on the Barrington Country Garden and Antique Faire, which is in its 14th year.

Every dollar raised from the annual event goes toward helping people in western Zambia. The annual garden walks raise $250,000 to $275,000 each year, Erickson said.

Buses take people from designated parking areas to Barrington homes to tour gardens. Guides at each house answer questions about the property and the plants.

The two-day event, which draws 1,000 to 1,500 people a year, includes antique, home, fashion and garden accessories for sale, an upscale flea market, fine foods, and home and garden presentations.

“We start at one end of the world, where [there are people] that raise money for people at the other end of the spectrum,” Erickson said.

To attend

The Barrington Country Garden and Antique Faire is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Complimentary shuttles will run from Barrington High School at 616 W. Main St. on Friday and from the office building complex at 800 Hart Road on Friday and Saturday. The cost of the event is $55.

For information, visit http://www.handsofhopeonline.org.

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