The Dark Turns To Light
Written by Centennial Middle School, MN students: Victoria Kurdyumov, Ella Fidler, Zac Ciampone, Zander Carciofini, and Marin Weinke
Imagine being a young orphan; new to the world, and stuck in the one of the worst situations possible. Meet Samri, a two year old Ethiopian girl suffering from dysentery; trapped in a pit of despair in a dirty orphanage with little food, no toys, and water that is completely and utterly unsanitary. Many places in Ethiopia are extremely desolate and segregated from any source of clean water. Women walk several miles every day to get to water, and bring it back to homes, schools, or orphanages. On top of all that, the only water they have access to is nearly undrinkable.
As her new family came from America to fill out the forms for Samri’s adoption, they experienced the conditions first hand. Unfortunately, instead of taking Samri back home, they had to return without her and wait for the orphanage to process the paperwork. When the family finally returned for the girl, she was closer to death than before. Doctors said that if they had come one week later, she would have died.
After a long plane ride to America, and a month of agonizing sickness, Samri finally recovered enough to leave the hospital; however, that did not end the strife. She still had six months of taking repulsive medicine, crying every time the family took the medicine out. Samri made it through all of this and now she is a happy, healthy seven year old girl.
Samri’s story shows how severe the situation is. Over 80% of illnesses in Africa are caused by water tainted with bacteria and parasites. Cholera, Typhoid Fever, and Hepatitis A are only a few of these diseases. H2O For Life is a non-profit organization with a mission to educate students in the United States about the world water crisis and connect them with students in schools that are in need of sanitary water. They use the donated money to build various water and sanitation projects for qualified schools.
Here at Centennial Middle School, we decided to take action to save other kids in Ethiopia like Samri. Mrs. Axvig, a teacher at our school, is the grandmother of Samri. In honor of her family, we decided to help the 705 students in Taji Primary School in Samri’s home country of Ethiopia.
Katie Spotz helped kick off our H2O For Life experience last fall. She was born in Mentor, Ohio, and went to Warren Wilson University, North Carolina in 2008. Unlike some people, she didn’t sit on the couch and watch TV or play video games; she wanted to make a difference in the world – and she has! She has raised over $250,000 for the H2O For Life. Her most famous fundraiser was “Row For Water.” Katie rowed 3,038 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. It took 70 days, 5 hours, and 22 minutes. In that time she raised $150,000. She inspired us all to take action too.
Then, we needed to understand the mission of H2O For Life. To help, 7th graders participated in a life-changing project called Beyond Our Borders. Each of us learned about one of the 50 poorest countries. We created a Powerpoint presentation in Language Arts and an informational map of our country in Social Studies. These activities broadened our view of the world and gave us an appreciation of things we take for granted. Life expectancy, literacy rates, and everyday life for kids our age without clean water were some of the topics we studied. We also participated in a poster contest that focused on what we can do here in Minnesota to conserve water. 6th graders learned about what it’s like to collect water everyday by reading A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park.
Now that we understood the water crisis, we set a goal of raising $4,000. T-shirts were sold school-wide and 7th grade held a coin drive. This year, over the course of only 6 weeks, we raised $4,558.78 to bring fresh water to Taji Primary School! Over the years, our school proudly participated in H2O For Life by raising over $54,000 that helped eleven schools in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Overall, H2O For Life is an inspirational program that raises money for people who don’t have access to clean drinking water. “Learning how bad off they are makes you think about everything we have and what we can do to help,” says Mrs.Thomsen, a sixth grade Language Arts teacher at Centennial Middle School. And we can help. We can help bring clean drinking water, we can stop water related diseases, we can. You don’t have to be like Katie Spotz, rowing across the Atlantic Ocean to raise money, but you still can make a difference. And we, the students at Centennial Middle School, certainly have.