Students Helping Students Get Safe Water
H2O For Life and Lifewater connect schools around the world.
For nearly five years Lifewater has worked with H2O For Life to connect students in North America with students in Africa and Asia promoting the idea of students helping students get safe water. Through year-long education and fundraising efforts in North American classrooms and schools, children have helped to bring safe water, sanitation, and hygiene to children in need in Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
H2O For Life is an organization that recruits and equips classrooms and schools in North America to help other students around the world get safe water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education. A group of students helping students commit to learning about the global water and sanitation crisis and raise enough money over the course of the year to help another class or school get safe water. So far, children have donated $75,000 to schools in Africa through Lifewater.
“Our program is designed to educate, engage and inspire youth in the US to become Global Citizens,” says Steve Hall, H2O For Life’s Director of School Programs. “Through our partnerships with organizations like Lifewater, we are able to provide the ‘action’ piece that is so important to show our US youth that they can make a difference in the world.”
In Least Developed Countries (LDCs), only half of schools have access to safe water or sanitation. That means students have to walk long distances to get water, and often must wander into the bush to relieve themselves. Access to WASH in primary and secondary schools increases school enrollment because it decreases the burden of labor and disease on children. Furthermore, it decreases inequalities in enrollment by providing for the dignity and safety of all children at school, especially girls and children with disabilities. Lifewater implements a WASH in Schools program which provides access to safe water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education to students and teachers.
Beginning in 2012, students raised money for two schools in Ethiopia to receive a new safe water source, blocks of latrines, and hygiene education (WASH in Schools). Students helping students in these schools also started WASH clubs, which use peer education to encourage healthy behaviors. Their peers in North America continued fundraising for several more schools since 2012 in Ethiopia and DRC, including 2 more schools in Ethiopia in 2016. This coming year, students working with H2O For Life will be raising money for a school in Ethiopia and Cambodia.
“H2O For Life provides an opportunity to connect children here in the U.S. with children across the globe,” says Christine Zurbach, Lifewater’s Vice President of Philanthropy. “Children are great empathizers. When they see and hear about the water and sanitation conditions that kids just like them have to deal with at school and home, they want to help. We’re honored to be a part of kids helping kids.”