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Ontario Royal Wedding gift supports safe drinking water projects

Third World remembered in February celebration

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

TORONTO, Ontario - A silent as well as a live auction at the recent Dutch Royal Wedding Gala festivities gave a broad perspective to the festivities and raise over $36,000 for Third World projects. Prince Willem-Alexander’s involvement with water management inspired the Gala organizers to support two of the special initiatives in Bolivia and Malawi to bring safe drinking water to small communities. The gift will be presented to the newly-wed royal couple in the form of a donation to Water For People, a registered charity in Canada and the USA.

Chaired by Wilbert Witkamp, the Netherlands Annual Gala Association of Toronto hosted a sold-out event on February 2. The venue proved to be a very popular attraction forcing the organizers to upgrade seating capacity several times. The event was attended by both the Argentinean and Dutch ambassadors to Canada.

The banquet was followed by the fundraising auctions which sold to the highest bidder a range of goods and services, everything from a Holland vacation package to a quality recliner and paintings of well-known local Dutch Canadian artists, a $5,000 landscaping package, hundreds of flowering bulbs, hotel packages, meals and even identity neckties.

In recent years, the substandard quality of drinking water in developing countries increasingly has been blamed for high infant mortality rates. The highest level in Latin America has been registered in Bolivia where 170 die out of every 1,000 born. Lack of health services and poor sanitation are contributing factors and also responsible for outbreaks of infectious diseases.

In Malawi, women wash clothes and families bathe in the water they also drink. Inland it is not uncommon for people to walk five hours to fetch drinking water, which always must be boiled for purification, but often not done.

The Bolivia and Malawi examples are part of the water management issues the United Nations seek to solve. Prince Willem-Alexander has been involved in water management organizations and chaired an international conference on the issue in The Hague two years ago. In 1998, he became honourary member of the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century and patron of the Global Water Partnership.