Imagine not having running water in your home, not being able to get a drink of water from the faucet, take a shower or wash your clothes. Or imagine if the water you did have is so contaminated that you have to boil it before you can drink it.
Those are some of the issues children at The Summit Country Day School were asked to consider before participating in the 10th annual Hands Across the Water six-kilometer walk-a-thon on Friday, April 26. Hands Across the Water began in 2010 and has raised more than $131,000 in the first nine years to provide water-purifying packets for children in developing countries. That amount is estimated to be enough to provide 89 villages with clean water for an entire year.
In many developing countries, children do not have clean, safe water. Without it, children and their families become ill – some so ill that they lose their lives from the illness that dirty water causes. Polluted water kills more people every year than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB combined. Children as young as 4 years old are responsible for finding and bringing back water for their families. These children are estimated to walk on average six kilometers each trip carrying heavy containers of unclean water.
“We teach our students that leaders of character go out of their way to help the less fortunate,” says Rich Wilson, Head of School. “This event helps the children have empathy for the challenging lives that their peers in underdeveloped countries have.”
A campus-wide event, Hands Across the Water teaches Summit children about the global water crisis, raises funds to provide purifying water packets for children in developing countries and raise awareness through a 6-kilometer walk around the school and neighborhood during which students carry jugs of water bottles. The Summit’s fund-raising efforts benefit the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) Clean Water for Life Fund. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who founded The Summit, operate schools and health clinics in the developing world including Africa, South America and Central America.
Sisters in the developing world face challenges simply providing their students with clean, safe water. Without clean safe water, those they serve may become ill or lose their lives to the diarrheal illness caused by unsafe water.
“If we don’t have clean water, even the health of the Sisters and their students or the sick ones they are serving are in danger,” said Fidelia Chukwa, SNDdeN Provincial of the Nigerian Province.
Sister Liliane Sweko, a member of the SNDdeN Congregational Leadership team in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the need for clean water is great. “We are trying to help this part of the world to have clean water,” she said. “The hospital needs clean water. Schools need clean water. And the neighbors.”
Through a partnership with P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, The SNDdeN Clean Water for Life Fund provides life-saving water purification packets to SNDdeN schools in the developing world.
This year’s fundraising effort continues through May 3, but includes $5,668 from collections made after Christmas Eve Masses in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel and $1,150 raised in a Montessori bake sale. Donate here: www.summitcds.org/HandsAcrossTheWater.