Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lakewood Students Helping Children in Kenya by Lisa Ermak

West Ottawa’s Lakewood Elementary students hope in about two weeks they will have collected enough money to have an effect on the daily lives of students in Africa.

Through a partnership between the school and Aqua Clara International, a Holland-based organization dedicated to helping people find clean water, they hope to raise $3,500 to provide clean drinking water to school children in rural Kenya.

“I did a presentation on the day in the life of a second-grader in Kenya,” said Claire Rumpsa, East Africa program manager for Aqua Clara International. “The students were really struck by the amount of time the Kenyan students have to spend to collect water.”

After a little brainstorming, the 7- and 8-year-olds at Lakewood decided to join Aqua Clara in the Schools for Water project.

Lakewood is one of 11 schools with a $3,500 fundraising goal.

“That $3,500 will cover very large rain water harvesting systems that provide two or three liters of water each day for each student plus water filters, other hand-washing stations and school clubs to build child-led education,” Rumpsa said.

Rumpsa said the water tanks will help about 500 students and free up several hours every day, which is typically spent collecting water instead of learning in the classroom.

While creating an action plan, they decided to make “think again bottles” — water bottles decorated with fact stickers — so they could drink the water with their families and talk about things they learned in class, then use the bottles to collect money they earned.

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