Friday, October 30, 2009

Action equals Results!!

Centennial Middle School, located in Lino Lakes, MN. recently received photos of a completed WASH project in Bangladesh. Centennial Middle School has partnered with H2O for Life for the past two years, and is continuing the partnership this year. Teachers, Mark Domschot, and Chris Ripken from Centennial High School visited Uganda and Kenya to visit completed H2O for Life projects in August. The middle school has raised over $25,000 in the past two years to complete projects in Kenya, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Bangladesh. This year, they are working to fund a WASH project in Ntungamo, Uganda, a community area that Mr. Domschot visited.

Several days ago, H2O for Life received completed photos from Centennial's partner school in Bangladesh. The school quickly developed a power point presentation to share the good news with their school. Please take a moment and view a few of the photos. Congratulations, Centennial Middle School! Your school has changed the lives of many students around the world. We hope it has also changed how YOU view the world!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last year, I received this article from "Phoenix" of Forest Lake, Minnesota. The article was accompanied by a one hundred dollar check that she won for submitting this story. Thanks Phoenix for writing a great and passionate article about H2O for Life and the water crisis. You have shown, once again, that one person can make a difference!

By Phoenix Forest Lake, MN
About Phoenix » More by this contributor »

The Gift of Life
submitted by Rebecca Harwell!

Americans are spoiled. It’s a fact. Today, teens have everything we want (except that perfect date for the prom). We don’t even stop to think that many aren’t so fortunate. And, if we do, we assume that someone is helping them and their problems will be solved soon enough. Anyway, what can one kid do? I’m going to tell you about a problem that millions of people face every day. It’s up to you to do the rest.You come home from a grueling soccer practice, and all you want to do is drink up Lake Superior and flop into bed. So, you go to the kitchen, pour yourself a huge glass of water, and guzzle it down. What if you had to walk six miles to a well for that drink? And carry back a heavy jug of water. And, after that, when you’re about to collapse from thirst, you open the jug and find the filthiest water imaginable. There are little bugs floating in the brown water, and it smells horrible. However, you’re dying of thirst and this is all you’ve got, so you drink up. I’m guessing that has never happened to you or anyone you know. But it’s life for millions of children. Africa is the second largest continent, home to 922 million people. It’s also the poorest and most underdeveloped continent. Thirty-six percent of the population of Africa lives on less than $1 per day. That’s less than a bottle of soda costs. With this dollar, they have to feed their families, which can include several generations. These people can’t afford wells for every household like we can. They don’t even have wells for all the schools.This means that every day, people – generally children – have to walk several miles to get a couple of gallons of dirty water for their family. They know that the water is bad for them, but it’s all they’ve got. They must drink it or die of thirst. It’s not just drinking the water that hurts these people. Most villages have open sewage, which means waste ends up in the streets. Animals, including livestock, drink this filthy, diseased water. If an animal gets sick and then people eat it, they can get sick too. Most African markets are outdoors, some right by sewage. Flies buzz around the debris, eating and drinking their fill and laying eggs on the food people then eat. These unsanitary conditions are causing many preventable diseases in Africa. Illnesses that aren’t a big deal here are deadly there. For example, diarrhea kills 3.3 million people, 800,000 of them children, every year in Africa. It’s caused by parasites found in dirty water, along with dehydration. Trachoma is another preventable disease that isn’t necessarily deadly, but is extremely painful. With trachoma, your eyelashes slowly turn inward, causing extreme pain and blindness. This disease has blinded approximately seven million people. It can be spread through body contact and flies. Another illness that you’re probably familiar with is malaria, which is caused by disease-ridden mosquitoes. They need a place to lay their eggs, and the open sewage fits the bill. Half the world’s population is at risk for malaria, and 3,000 people die from it every day. That’s over a million a year. And these are just a few of the diseases that ravage Africa, all because of dirty water. This past year, my school held a fundraiser. This wasn’t the normal kind where you sell magazine subscriptions or calendars to earn money for the school. This fundraiser changed lives. We sponsored a school in Mozambique and raised $9,100 to build a well. A well actually costs twice that, but an organization called H2O for Life found government programs to match the amount we raised. Together, we gave the gift of life to that school. If the cogs in your head are moving and this sounds good to you, then talk to your principal or a teacher about getting your school involved in H2O for Life. It’s a way to get everyone to help. Or recruit a couple of buddies and start raising money yourself. Do a carwash, a bake sale, or sell lemonade on the side of the road. So, you have the money – now what? It probably isn’t enough to build a well, but who cares? Every penny counts. You can donate on the H2O for Life website. They graciously accept even the smallest amount (but try to give at least $20). You can find more facts about Africa’s water situation at hope I got through to you about the terrible problems people face when they don’t have clean water. You can do something about it. I am trying to convince my church to sponsor an African school. When my school started our fundraiser, we watched a short video about a celebrity who went to Africa. He was shocked by what he saw, and so was I. But, the thing about that movie that I’ll never forget was when he visited a school that had just gotten a well. The kids were so excited, not because the movie star was there, but because there was a new flush toilet – something we completely take for granted. Think about that, and look at your life. What if you got excited whenever you poured a glass of water or flushed a toilet? It’s these small things that are the true gifts of life.

This piece has also been published in Teen Ink's monthly magazine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

H2O for Life is focusing on Water because...

I recently read the article posted below about the amount of money spent in developing countries, particularly in Africa, to combat HIV/AIDS while ignoring other mounting health issues. It is time to spend funds wisely and focus on other health issues that are more prevelant than AIDS. As always, thank you to all H2O for Life schools for your participation in combatting the water, sanitation and hygiene issues facing schools around the world.

Experts want African aid funds channelled away from HIVFocus on Aids, they say, has led to neglect of other fatal conditions killing young children

Alex Duval Smith The Observer, Sunday 25 October 2009

Top scientists are demanding a controversial overhaul of health spending in Africa, arguing that the billions of pounds targeted at HIV during the past 20 years have led to a neglect of other killer diseases and basic health problems such as diarrhoea.

Developed countries poured $13.2bn (£8.2bn) last year into efforts to combat HIV, chiefly for Africa, up from $480m in 1996. But only eight countries, all in southern Africa, remain in the grip of a severe Aids crisis, while World Health Organisation data show that five of the biggest killers in Africa are illnesses that affect children under the age of five.

Childhood diarrhoea kills an estimated 1.5 million children under five each year worldwide – at least half of them in Africa – although it is easily treatable with zinc tablets that cost little more than $2 each. Diarrhoea received less than 5% of worldwide research and treatment funding last year.

Daniel Halperin, an HIV epidemiology researcher at the Harvard Medical School of Public Health, said: "There has generally been a misalignment from the donors. It is time for a rethink. Many people in the west believe all Africans are impoverished and infected with HIV. Yet the reality is that most countries have stable HIV prevalence of less than 3%. What most people really need are things such as clean water and family planning. Even tuberculosis and malaria get far less money than HIV. In some cases these sectors have inadvertently been hurt by the focus on HIV."

One of Africa's leading health economists, Alan Whiteside, who is director of the Health Economics and HIV/Aids Research Division at the University of KwaZulu Natal, said the flood of donations towards the battle against Aids had also created the conditions for widespread misuse of the funds. Whiteside played a prominent role in bringing the southern African Aids epidemic to the world's attention in the 1990s. He has also advised the United Nations and Aids2031 – an international expert group set up to chart the best route to tackle Aids in advance of the 50th anniversary of the first report of the illness.

"The lure of Aids money has led in some African countries to large-scale corruption," he said, "and the establishment of non-government organisations as an industry. The achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015 depends on us getting our focus on Aids right.

"Where those goals are missed by the widest margins, Aids will have been responsible. The focus on treatment has distracted us from prevention. Solutions need to be tailored to the situation in each country. Money needs to be reallocated based on what we know now, not what we knew then."
submitted by:
Patty Hall
H2O for Life

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reflections of our Journey-Water is Life

I am never at a loss for words. Never. I always have something to say. However, given the assignment of writing a short recap of the trip that my colleagues and I took to Uganda and Kenya, I find myself struggling to do justice to the experience given the limitations of words. We spent nearly five weeks visiting completed and future H2O for Life projects. We were witness to the impact of the work that our U.S. students have on the lives of students who now have ready access to clean water at school along with new, clean and private latrines and education to learn the importance of hand washing and safe hygiene practices.

We visited nearly 30 different schools and we were treated like royalty by gracioius children at each location. We heard wonderful testimony of the impact of new latrines and clean water and participated in ribbon cutting ceremonies, dances, songs and enjoyed the smiles and enthusiasm of thousands of children. Like our American students, they are curious, happy and enjoy attending school.

We also witnessed devastation. Kenya is going through a two year drought and the land is very dry. Girls are being released from school at noon so that they have enough time to fetch water for home before dark. They must find and carry water to school each morning. Water tanks sit empty not only because of the lack of rain but also due to an inadequate number of tanks to store water during such dry times. Many latrines are full, lack doors or are non-existent.

We hope your school or organization will be interested in joining us in a rewarding and educational service-learning project. We must remind you that there is much work to be done to bring WASH projects to schools. (water, sanitation and hygiene education) Students will see the impact that they can make through the smiles on the faces of their fellow students around the world. At every location we visited we were reminded of a constant theme, "Water is Life." Maybe those are the words that do justice to describe our trip. Water is Life!

Val Johnson

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