Friday, April 20, 2012

Make a Difference: H2O for Life

While at NSTA, in Indy, as I was pushing my way through the crowded aisle in the exhibit hall, I stopped by the H2O for Life booth. I have a personal connection to third world countries as I spent a summer in Cameroon, Africa through Teen Missions International.  To say it was life-changing would be an understatement. I came home more passionate about life, thankful for toilets (we used "squatty-potties" for 3 months), clean water (we filtered all of our own water using a hand pump), washing machines (we hand-washed all of our own clothes in the local river), and more likely to raise my hands as a form of worship (Africans know how to involve their entire bodies while they sing!) 

Consider watching this video that was featured on "The Today Show" in 2010 as it showcases the strong connections that can be made between American and third-world county classrooms!     

So when I saw this booth, I stopped and talked with Steve Hall the Director of School Programs at Water for Life. He reiterated for me, an important social issue. Young girls in communities that lack clean water,  often do not attend school because they must fetch water, walking miles a day, so their families have drinking water.

Here is what is posted on the Water for Life Website: 
"H2O for Life provides a transformational service-learning opportunity for students, youth groups and others to partner with a school in a developing country that desperately needs WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene education (WASH in Schools Initiative). 

Through service-learning, donor partners study the global water crisis, while taking action to fund a WASH project for their recipient partner school. 

Students and adults learn they can make a difference in the lives of others, becoming energized global citizens and activists for change.  H2O for Life provides extensive curriculum, and educational support.  JOIN US TODAY!"

The concept here is so simple; this organization pairs classrooms in America with classrooms in third world countries that need clean water and adequate latrines. This provides concrete connections for our own students, and motivates them to really make a difference! Our students are educated about water and sanitation issues within an education curriculum, paired with partner school, then decide on a realistic monetary goal and ways to raise the funds!       

This organization by itself is not affiliated with any religious organization, however, they have recently paired up with Faiths for Safe Water to better coordinate faith organizations who already have personnel in communities in which water is a dire need. Churches can be paired with needy communities to really make a difference. 

Whatever your situation, you CAN get involved. If you are a classroom teacher, consider getting the entire school, or district to cover the principal in slime if the school can raise $4000 (that is my arbitrary number, your school decides how much money will be raised.) Maybe your homeschooling co-op would be interested in being paired up with students in Africa, to raise $300. Or maybe your church would like to utilize resources they already have to make this personal connection.  

Take a look at the current needs they have for faith-based schools and public schools. They organize the partnerships, so that no matter how much $$$ you can raise, they can still partner you will a needy school, every dollar matters, and every dollar makes a difference. 

I encourage you to look seriously at this outreach opportunity. We take water for granted, and our kids probably have never considered the impact that water has their own lives and the community in which they live. Talking about it is one thing, but doing something is quite another! 

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