Did you know that more than 3.5 million people die each year from water-related diseases? Most of these people are children in third-world countries. In fact, the water and sanitation crisis has claimed more lives than war.
Students from Serra, Mercy and Notre Dame joined forces during the Lenten season to make a difference by participating in the H20 Project challenge. The Tri-School students’ goal is to raise $6,500 to build a water well in Abisu Ghana, a rural village in West Africa. Each dollar raised will provide clean drinking water for a child for one year, and $10 will provide clean water for a lifetime. It’s not too late to donate to this worthwhile cause. Donations will be collected through next Wednesday, April 4. So far, $4,500 has been collected between the three schools.
“Many kids are unaware of problems in foreign countries,” said Chris Ippolito ’13. “We have it so easy – we go to a private school and our parents pay for everything. We take water for granted, while other countries struggle to find it. The H20 Project makes us more aware of how severe these problems are.”
The H20 Project has generated a lot of interest during the Lenten season. During each week of Lent, a designated grade participated in the H20 Project. Students who supported the project gave up all beverages except for tap water. They showed their support by wearing blue wristbands, which reminded them of their Lenten sacrifice. Money they would have spent on soda, Snapple or Gatorade was placed in a wooden water well located in the Serra main lobby.
“The H20 Project is both a sacrifice and an action,” noted Carlo Fiatarone, director of Christian service, justice and immersion programs. “By choosing one week to live simply and drink water as our only beverage, together we can save enough money to build a water well that will provide clean drinking water for an entire village in West Africa.”
Fiatarone lived in Sierra Leone from 2005 to 2006, so he is familiar with the harrowing distress of West Africa. While participating in a Catholic missionary project, Fiatarone worked with and cared for 75 abandoned street boys ages 6 to 15. He and other missionaries helped them to go back to school and find caring foster homes. Fiatarone has witnessed firsthand children starving from malnutrition and suffering from neglect.
“My goal was to educate our students on the global issue of water,” he explained. “It’s an opportunity for them to be involved in solving an issue of injustice. We specifically participated during Lent, so they could feel connected to another community through Lenten sacrifice.”“It’s important to participate in the H20 project because it helps poor and unfortunate children have a better and healthier lifestyle,” said Diego Ramos ’13. “Being able to donate money for the well has been a humbling experience. I’m hoping that this project will help other people to be aware of the severity of the problems in Ghana.”