ONE DROP at a TIME - Students work to help South Sudan water crisis
MONTGOMERY — Barr-Reeve’s eighth graders may never look at a simple drink of water from the kitchen faucet in the same light.
students of Mrs. Hannah Mattingly read “A Long Walk to Water,” part
biography/part novel, last fall where the main character Salva Dut
described the South Sudan water crisis, where the water supply is often
muddy from handmade wells or streams, and sometimes contaminated with
radioactive waste. Some drinking water, which women and children walk
four to eight hours a day just to retrieve, is populated with guinea
worms causing stomach problems that can lead to death.
Part of the
book, written by Linda Sue Park, describes Dut’s real-life escape from
South Sudan as a refugee which eventually lands him in Rochester, N.Y.,
where he is compelled to help his home country’s water crisis. Dut
founded an organization, Water for South Sudan, which in turn has issued
an Iron Giraffe Challenge, where schools across the nation are being
asked to raise $1,000 each to help buy better drilling rigs to construct
safe water wells in South Sudan.
The old drilling rig -- The Iron Giraffe -- has already drilled more than 282 wells for the project, but needs replaced.
eighth graders at Barr-Reeve were recognized as the 25th school
nationwide to take the challenge, and have until early March to meet
their goal to help fund a new rig. As part of their project, on Jan. 18
students will have a walkathon after school, where they each walk one
mile, demonstrating the burdensome way Sudanese retrieve water. If they
carry a gallon water jug for the mile, they will get extra credit, and
the bottled water will be donated later to local food bank Feed My
Mason Helm said some of his fellow students planned to
carry their water jugs on their heads, which is how the Sudanese often
Amya Stoll, director of the project for her class
period, said part of her job is to make sure her fellow classmates are
on task. As part of their class work, students also wrote publicity
articles, designed posters, flyers, and made PowerPoints for their
community awareness presentations.
Stoll says the students are likely to make their goal, being just $35 short as of Wednesday.
Hannah Graber and Katie Wagler agreed that most donations so far have
come from parents and family, as well as school board members.
group of students presented their project to the school board, as well
as the school’s Beta Club and Student Council, to create awareness. And,
they have designed and sold bracelets with the saying “Changing Lives
One Drop at a Time.”
Also as part of the project, Brandy Jewett, a
Franklin College student who studied abroad in Uganda, spoke to the
classes about her experiences.
And another student from Uganda recorded answers to some of the students’ submitted questions.
said of the project, “I think it has been beneficial to all of us. We
take water for granted. Some people have to walk eight hours to get
Mrs. Mattingly, now in her second year teaching at
the school, said she visited the Water for South Sudan website after
reading the book.
She said, “The ‘Iron Giraffe’ part in the book
comes from when a drilling rig comes to Nya’s village. It looks like a
tall iron giraffe, so that’s what she calls it. I pitched it to the kids
and they were all really excited that they could make a difference.
are dying from drinking water in South Sudan... all across the world
really and the kids have really gotten into being able to do this
service project, make a difference in the world and really change
someone’s life through something you can do at school. They’ve really
done well with it.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Anyone who wants to
donate for the Water for South Sudan Iron Giraffe Project can call
Barr-Reeve High School at 812-486-3265 or contact any eighth grade
student. Students are just shy of their $1,000 goal, but would like to
raise as much as possible.
Visit www.wateforsouthsudan.org for more information.