“If I suddenly said you couldn’t drink the tap water, you couldn’t get any clean water, does anybody know where you would go for fresh water?” This is the question Mr. Kevin Cook, director of service, asked our Junior School students (and teachers) at a special Walk for Water assembly earlier this week.
Easy access to fresh water is something that many of us take for granted, but bringing to light the fact that this is not the case elsewhere around the world was the focus of the event on Tuesday.
The gym erupted with little voice yelling back: “a well”, “rivers” and “lakes”.
“A water well is a fantastic idea. How many of you have a well? How many of you have a river in your house?” Kevin asks the students. Silence.
“These Senior students here are going to carry these big, heavy water jugs up to the Senior School. We’re going to make it like they were in Kenya or India,” he says. “These children wouldn’t be going to school because they would need to go and fetch water for their family. That’s what we’re doing here today. We use a lot of water because it’s easy to get, but in many countries that’s not the case.”
This week’s Walk for Water event saw Grade 9-12 students carrying water jugs – weighing some 50 pounds each – five kilometres from the Junior School to the Senior School to raise awareness of and money for improving access to fresh water in Ngosuani, Kenya.
In countries like Kenya, the mamas (mama is a title of respect and endearment for African women) will travel that distance every day carrying multiple water jugs to a well to ensure their family has water. And often that water isn’t even safe to drink. And they’ll do that walk 2-3 times a day.
“Awareness is the main reason we do it at the Junior School. It was great this year because we had the Junior School students walk a few laps of the field with the older kids carrying the water. That was a neat experience for them,” Kevin says. “Any time you can embed something at a young age, it’s going to help as they grow older. Starting them young to create an ethos of philanthropy, giving, understanding and caring. Whatever you do with them at that age, you’re setting them up and helping them understand what the world will be like as they grow into it.”
Check out this SMUStube video from 2011 about the annual Walk for Water event at SMUS:
(photos by Kyle Slavin)