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Women walk for literacy

Lauren Halsted, Tribune staff writer

Mother’s Day took on new meaning at Lake Tahoe Community College this year. While there were no emotional outbursts or personal stories to tell at the fund-raiser, women at Lake Tahoe were able to find a universal connection to some of the world’s underprivileged women.

Soroptimist International of Tahoe Sierra sponsored a UNIFEM/USA spring walk for Afghanistan Sunday morning. Proceeds from the “We Walk So They Can Read” fund-raiser will be donated to the United Nations Development Fund for Women to support and empower women and girls in Afghanistan.

Only 3 percent of women in Afghanistan are literate. The statistic underlines how Afghan women have been socially, politically and economically isolated and stripped of human rights.

The walk is a “woman-to-woman way to help,” Joanne Shope, a Soroptimist member who organized the event, said.

The idea behind the walk is that “you can’t learn to read if you don’t have a book, and you can’t learn to write without pen and paper,” Shope said.

A group of dedicated women congregated at LTCC, armed with walking shoes and satisfied smiles. The 2.5 mile course, which was marked by yellow caution tape and arrows made of flour, weaved around the bike trail, behind Albertson’s, along Trout Creek and back to the campus. LTCC was an appropriate location choice because it recognizes the opportunity that American women have to pursue an education while promoting this opportunity to women around the world.

Gwen Colwell and her daughter-in-law Sharon, who was visiting from Sacramento, took part in the walk. Clowell is a Soroptimist member who participates in many walks, both locally and around the state. Sharon, who is not a member, walked to support her mother-in-law and the cause. She was awarded a prize for being the first non-member to participate.

It took more than Soroptimist members to make the event a success. “The people here in town have been wonderful,” Shope said. Raley’s donated drinks, Bonanza gave fruit and Rude Brothers supplied bagels to replenish walkers. “You can’t believe how supportive this community can be.”

The walk at Tahoe raised about $400. It is part of a larger event promoted by the United Nations. Different communities around the world host similar walks, and donate the money raised to the same fund, Shope said.

“It is just as important for us in Tahoe as anywhere else.”

Soroptimist International is a service club for business and professional women. The Tahoe Sierra chapter has 48 members and is divided into six committees: health, environment, international goodwill and understanding, status of women, education and economic and social development. The health committee, which has a dedicated group of walkers, sponsored the event.

This weekend, 14 women from the club will travel to San Francisco to participate in the Bay to Breakers walk.

— Lauren Halsted can be reached at 542-8012 or lhalsted@tahoedailytribune.com.


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