Lesson 1: Clean Water Keeps Students in School

Clean Water | Print

When you put your child or grandchild on the school bus, your biggest worry might be if they turn their homework in on time. Vannary had bigger concerns about the students in her school, and they all came down to one factor: water.

But you get an A+ for helping her school overcome their barriers, and now it’s flourishing like never before.

Vannary’s father founded the elementary school, but five years ago, when he became too sick to leave the house, Vannary took up the torch as the principal. She was so proud to carry on her father’s vision, helping fuel the next generation’s thirst for learning.

But when she took over, she quickly knew something was wrong. There were 200 preschool through sixth-grade students enrolled. So, why were there so many empty seats? Children were constantly in and out of school with illness after illness. Fevers and diarrhea kept kids home for days, so they rarely had the chance to get any consistent lessons.

The culprit: contaminated water. The school didn’t have a clean water source, so children drank from filthy ponds and creeks in the community that harbored bacteria and waste. It was a catch-22—either drink the water guaranteed to get you sick or don’t drink the water and assuredly die.

To make matters worse, a drainage issue had flooded the school’s only two toilets. Students had to trudge through sewage water just to brave the toilets. With no clean place to go to the bathroom, the female students were embarrassed, so Vannary often let them leave to use the bathroom at home.  

Vannary was overwhelmed. She had 200 students with no clean water to drink and no toilets. How would these children ever get an education if they were always sick?

Then, a team you supported came to the village and gave twenty ceramic water filters to the school—two for each classroom and one for every teacher. While they were at it, the team solved the drainage issue and repaired the toilets. No more wet ankles just to go to the bathroom.

Best of all, the team built a huge water tank to collect rainwater for the entire village to use. Not only would the village have a ready source of clean water after it rained, the filters meant they could have clean water anytime they needed it.

Vannary couldn’t believe it. No one had ever come to help their village before. As thanks, she came to the school every day, leading the children in activities, songs, and games for the volunteers. On the last day, with the water tank finally finished, the school held a goodbye party, with students bringing fruit and urging the volunteers into outdoor games. Vannary was right in the middle of the celebration.

Vannary’s school looks much different now. The water tank is full. Attendance is at an all-time high. She can stand at the back of a classroom and see fewer empty desks. This is the school her father envisioned—one full of happy and healthy children.

We can’t expect children to become the leaders of tomorrow if they can’t stay healthy enough to go to school. Donate more water filters to give school leaders like Vannary the hope they desire for their students.  

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