An outpouring of water, support
East Ridge High School junior Beatrice Nyabuti grew up in Kenya and she can distinctly remember having to carry water far distances in order to have access to it.
Now, Nyabuti, and other East Ridge students, are working to make sure other students don't have to go through the same experiences that Nyabuti did with the school's new H2O For Life group.
"Most students here don't know what other students in other countries go through and the obstacles they pass through," Nyabuti said. "But, I've been able to see life in a different way since I've experienced that personally."
Through H2O for Life, an international organization, high schools partner with a school from a different country in order to raise money to help provide clean water and other services to that school.
"We learn about water, we raise money and we become aware of global activities," Nyabuti said. "It's good for students to get this opportunity to view how other students experience their day-to-day lives."
East Ridge, which has partnered with Mongoni Primary School in Kenya, is raising money for two different H2O for LIfe initiatives: installing a rainwater catchment tank and building latrines.
"Students can get clean water rather than having to walk miles and miles," Nyabuti said.
The two projects will cost about $30,000. East Ridge has raised around $3,000 so far.
East Ridge sophomore Arshia Arora said she decided to get involved with the group because she has learned in school how dangerous unsanitary water can be.
"I thought it was a good cause," she said. "If I can play a little, but significant, role, I should join."
East Ridge sophomore Shonice Pooniwala said she wanted to join H2O for Life because she doesn't think its fair that water isn't accessible to everybody.
"We all are the same, she said. "We have the resources - we have food, we have water - they're just not equally distributed."
East Ridge science teacher Matt Howard, who acts as the adviser for H2O for Life, said having students involved in an organization like this is a great benefit since it opens their eyes to the world.
"In high school, it is easy to be focused on your area and your community," he said. "It'll help them get exposed to larger global issues."
Additionally, Howard said, a community service organization like H2O for Life will help make students more service minded in the future.
"Knowing that they can make a difference is pretty incredible," he said. "Hopefully it grows into something more, such as a lifelong commitment to helping others since we are in a pretty privileged position."
Even though H2O for Life is working to raise awareness about the global water crisis, the organization's main goal is to raise money to provide water to these countries.
One fundraiser the school held earlier in the year sold homemade bracelets from Kenya for $10 each.
H2O for Life was able to acquire the bracelets through a partnership with Feed My Starving Children.
"Not only are they buying an accessory for themselves, it has some value to others," Arora said.
Additionally, the group is currently running a coin drive at the school.
One fundraiser the school is hoping to hold next year is a "Water Walk" where people pledge to walk around the track carrying gallons of water on their back.
"The whole idea is to get that feeling for what people in other countries are going through," Howard said.
Arora said water is something that everyone should be allowed.
"Water is a basic necessity for life," she said. "It's important that we play our part in getting it to others."
More information on H2O for Life can be found at www.h2oforlifeschools.org.