Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stillwater Junior High Raises the bar!

Stillwater Junior High School, located in Stillwater, MN recently hosted a terrific event.  Students read the book, "They Poured Fire on us From the Sky", and then invited "Lost Boy" speaker John Dau to speak to the community in Stillwater.  Over 500 people attended the evening event and learned about the hardships endured by Dau during his relocation from Sudan.  Students were amazed at his story.  In conjunction with the book, Stillwater Junior High is raising funds to help build 2 wells for South Sudan.  They have already raised over $7500 this year, with a goal of $10,000!  Teachers and students, along with project lead teacher Sara Damon- we salute you and your efforts!

The video below shares a few commens by students and John Dau.

Friday, November 18, 2011

World Toilet Day- 2011

World Toilet Day should be about demanding better work, better results, and more thoughtful programming.
Lend your social networking voice via Twitter or Facebook to raise attention to World Toilet Day.

 I wanted to share with you a provocative article that Water For People's CEO, Ned Breslin wrote in response to the usual clamor around World Toilet Day, "More Funding for Sanitation Projects," as is echoed in this article in the Independent. I hope you'll find Ned's response, which was published by AlertNet, thought provoking and informative.

Commitment to Everyone – My Wish for World Toilet Day

By Ned Breslin

This Saturday, November 19, we will celebrate World Toilet Day. The day has been vital to raising awareness about the 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to a hygienic toilet.

Not having a toilet is a disgrace and a major health catastrophe, directly contributing to the death of approximately 4,000 children worldwide every day.

Yet coupled with this public health disaster is the growing realization that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation is perhaps the most off track MDG target of all.

The MDGs are eight measurable goals to be achieved by 2015 established by the United Nations (U.N.) in 2000 to try and alleviate global poverty.

Massive global sanitation problems combined with the utter failure to even remotely reach MDG targets place the sanitation sector at a crossroads.

I have worked in sanitation for over 20 years, and today was another sad day like too many other sad days I have encountered when focused on sanitation. I spent this morning with Palmiera, a mother who lives in the mountains of Bolivia.

She shows me a small building that is immaculately constructed with brick and cement next to her house. As I come around the corner I see it is a toilet, with a large international NGO (nongovernmental organization) logo, with a smaller foreign aid donor emblem just below, painted on the side to pronounce to the world the NGO and donor’s benevolence and presence.

Entering the toilet, my heart sinks as the latrine is broken – the toilet seat is so dirty that dust flies everywhere as I open it, the water needed to make the toilet work had stopped flowing years ago, and the toilet was now a shed to store the family’s agricultural commodities that will eventually be sold. It’s a toilet in theory only.

Set against this failure at Palmiera’s house – which is hardly unique – is a shallow debate about foreign aid that states simply that billions of people do not have safe sanitation (true) and that the solution is more foreign aid that is better targeted at countries who are most off track in terms of sanitation coverage (questionable at best).

Aid, it is argued, is not only misaligned but most importantly not sufficient to create a world where every family, every school and every clinic has access to a toilet that removes pathogen-rich feces from the immediate environment.

We are losing the battle, it is argued, because governments worldwide are not playing their part, not contributing enough to rid the world of this horror.

Talk to the most thoughtful field practitioners in the sanitation sector and you might be surprised to hear that the math that reads low sanitation coverage + increased foreign aid = more sustainable sanitation access does not really add up.


Well, we have tried pushing money into sanitation for decades with little effect. Some would even argue that foreign aid for sanitation, which has almost always translated into latrine construction projects despite overwhelming evidence that such approaches do not work, has fundamentally distorted the sanitation market to the detriment of the poorest.

Just ask Palmiera, as foreign aid did not help address her sanitation problem at all. Her toilet was built, it does not work, and Palmiera is no better off as a result of this investment.

My wish for World Toilet Day is consequently somewhat different from all the noise that you will hear on this extremely important day. The noise will focus on raising awareness of the sanitation problem worldwide and pushing people to donate more and more money to eradicate sanitation poverty.

But sanitation agencies do a disservice to the people they work with around the world like Palmiera if the latrines that actually are built do not work or last. They do a disservice to American taxpayers and philanthropists when they take money for transformative work that fails to transform.

And they run the risk of discrediting the entire sanitation movement if World Toilet Day does not demand better work, better results, and more thoughtful programming from those shouting the loudest for more money.

Conventional sanitation aid needs to be radically overhauled and progress monitored over time. New philanthropy understands that the problem is not that we do not have enough money for sanitation aid but rather that the money we actually have is so poorly spent.

Catalytic investments that minimize latrine subsidies and try to create sanitation markets supported by local businesses show great promise without a single dollar of aid being used for latrine construction.

Initiatives like Community-Led Total Sanitation appear to be scaling in some of the poorest parts of the world with significantly less financial requirements than was once considered just and reasonable because these programs tap into local financial resources for solutions rather than relying on conventional aid.

And the creative use of local financial institutions and microfinance continue to show an alternative funding model that does not require on-going foreign aid support.

The sanitation sector needs to change its tone, from demanding more money to demanding to be held accountable for better results from communities in developing countries and donors and philanthropists who want their investments to truly solve the global sanitation crisis.

We need to think differently about the reasons why 2.6 billion people do not have access to sanitation worldwide and have the courage to accept that we, as a sector, have failed far too many people like Palmiera.

World Toilet Day will be a great success if those of us on the frontlines of this sanitation battle commit to a new way of working, with greater transparency and more thoughtfulness, so that the next time Palmiera gets a latrine she has it for life.

Submitted by:
John Sauer

Assistant Director Thought Leadership

Water For People

Monday, October 31, 2011

H2O for Life collaborates with the World Savvy Challenge

Are you looking for more ways to involve your students in terrific programs?  Well, look no farther.  H2O for Life is collaborating with the World Savvy Challenge.  If your students are already participating in an H2O for Life project, getting involved with World Savvy will be easy.  It provides an opportunity for your students to prepare a presentation and show the rest of the country what they have learned.  Read more about how to get involved with World Savvy below:

National Online Pilot Program

H2O For Life Schools are invited to participate in the World Savvy Challenge, a project-based learning program that builds students knowledge & skills for global competence.

How it works:

Students work in teams of up to 10 in class or afterschool

Students chose a topic and problem related to the theme of Sustainable Communities and engage in in-depth research on their theme using World Savvy resources as a guide

Students participate in the Savvy Scavenger Hunt to build their knowledge of the theme and awareness of current events

Students develop local, national and global level solutions and develop a knowledge-to-action plan for how they can take action on the issue

Students present their research & solutions in either a website or documentary and submit it online along with their knowledge to action plan to compete for prizes against students from around the country

Competing students also participate in an online action roundtable, where they work with peers from other schools to discuss a related real world problem

Students who score in the top 10% of online entries are eligible to submit their knowledge-to-action plan to the national online finals where they have a chance to win up to $500 to implement their plan over the summer

World Savvy provides teachers with the necessary resources to embed these topics into their existing curriculum, including a program guide book, a World Savvy Monitor on Sustainable Communities, a Sustainable Communities Collaborator’s Guide, bi-weekly resource emails, professional development opportunities, grading rubrics, and student research support.

This is a great chance for H2O for Life students to deepen their knowledge of the connections between water & sustainability and share their research & solutions with a national audience!

Team Registration Deadline: December 15, 2011

Competition entries due March 15, 2012

Register online at

Cost: $100 per team of 10 students; $50 for additional teams. Includes all digital materials.

For more information, please contact Taylor Watson at or 415-813-1682.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stillwater Junior High School Hosts John Bul Dau

Tuesday night was a busy evening for Stillwater Junior High School.  Stillwater is located in Minnesota, and has been an H2O for Life partner for the past 3 years.  Teacher, Sara Damon, focuses on Sudan and conflict as one of her teaching modules for AP Geography.  The students read the book "They Poured Fire on us From the Sky."  They study the conflict in Sudan, and also discuss the mass exodus of the "Lost Boys". As a culminating community activity, John Bul Dau, author of the book, "God Grew Tired of Us" was invited to speak at the Junior High and spend two days in geography classrooms with the students.  Over 500 tickets were purchased for the event, and several area non-profits and a local book store also were in attendance.

John is a great story teller, and had the crowd mesmorized as he outlined his life as a youth in Sudan, a refugee, and immigrant to the US, and how he is now giving back to his native country.  He used humor, and powerful stories to engage the crowd.  Mrs. Damon has developed great curricular ideas that can be used in your classroom, and it can be found in our H2O for Life tool-kit online.

Stillwater Junior High hosted a walk for water, sold t-shirts and hosted this wonderful event to raise over $7500 so far this year wells in Southern Sudan.  But they aren't done yet!  Their goal this year is to raise $10,000 to sponsor two wells for Southern Sudan.  If you would like to help them reach their goal, make a donation online and designate, Stillwater Jr. High as the recipient.  OR.... choose a school partner, engage your school and make a difference in the world.

Congratulations Stillwater Junior High School. Your actions are changing the world.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October is Global Handwashing Day/Month!

Highlighting the “H”: on Global Handwashing Day

Now in its fourth year, Global Handwashing Day brings attention to the often forgotten “H” in WASH, hygiene. When something as simple as handwashing with soap can help reduce diarrhea rates among children under five by almost 50 percent, it is imperative that this simple practice is not overlooked.

About 34 percent of people wash their hands with soap at critical moments – i.e. before handling food and after using the toilet. The key to increasing the practice of handwashing with soap is to promote behavioral change through motivation, information and education.

There are a variety of ways to increase awareness about the importance of handwashing, including high-profile national media campaigns, peer-to-peer education, hygiene lessons for school children and encouraging children to bring home the lessons they have learned at school to their families and communities.

It is never too late to teach children that handwashing is important.  H2O for Life-besides providing water projects and toilets to schools, also focuses on handwashing and hygiene education.

What can you do to raise awareness and change behaviors in your family and school?  What can you do to help a school around the world have access to a handwashing facility?  Choose a school from our list, and take action today!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Partnership with schools in India- H2O for Life on a National Telethon!

H2O for Life is taking the challenge to be part of the "Support my Schools" campaign in India.  We have partnered with 9 schools that need water, sanitation and hygiene education.  Take a look at the video below.
It was an honor to be mentioned on National Indian television. 

You can help- Donations may be made for schools in India.  Donate now on our website.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Soap supports H2O for Life!

Colorado State University graduates Juwon Melvin and Aaron Madonna, both 25, grew up in Denver's Montbello neighborhood. They met at a precollegiate summer program called Black Issues Forum. Personal hardships, including Melvin's father abandoning his family when Melvin was 8, and Madonna watching friends get caught up in gangs and drugs, inspired their volunteerism.

Their plan to help crystallized while Melvin traveled in Morocco, where he witnessed children who couldn't go to school because they had to walk for miles each day to find clean water.

"Education was the way out for us, and it can be the way out for the children we want to serve," Madonna said. "But when you are in survival mode and don't have basic needs met, you can't focus on school or take advantage of the opportunities it can give you."

Juwon called H2O for Life during the summer, and expressed their desire to support water projects in developing countries through a connection with H2O for Life in Nicaragua.  They have chosen two schools in Nicaragua to benefit from their business plan.  Thus far, the young men have raised $2000 and are on their way to their goal to raise $5000 for the schools.  To read more, click on the link below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Startling Water Facts!

As the school year begins, please take a look at updated Water Statistics!!

Can  you imagine?
Across the world, about 884 million people suffer from a lack of access to water that is safe.

More than 3.5 million people will die every year due to sickness that is water-related.

A child dies from a water-related disease every 20 seconds.

Diarrhea kills more children under the age of 5 than malaria, measles, and AIDS combined; about 1.5 million each year.

Compared to richer people residing in the same city, less wealthy people are forced to pay between 5 to 10 times more for a liter of water.

An American who takes a shower lasting just five minutes already utilizes more water than an average person who lives in the slum of a developing country does in one entire day.

In the human body, more than 60 percent is made up of water.

While 75 percent of the surface of the globe is covered in water, 98 percent of that is unfit for drinking because it is saltwater.

An average human can only last for about a week without drinking any water.

Almost 4 trillion gallons of water are consumed in America each month.

A typical American utilizes 176 gallons of water every day, while the typical African family utilizes just 5 gallons of water every day.

(statistics provided by Seametrics)

We can change these statistics by funding water projects at schools in need around the world.  Please choose a school project today.  Learn about the global water crisis, and the actions that YOU can take to make a difference today, and every day!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Clean Water Fuels Education:

Over the summer, Chris Olmanson, a sophomore at Boston College completed an internship at the H2O for Life offices in White Bear Lake, MN.  Chris did every job that needed to be done. He stuffed envelopes, glued packets as needed, developed an amazing lesson plans for geography, created a college outreach program for our website complete with instructions on how to build your website to link to H2O for Life, and lastly, wrote a blog that he submitted to our good friends at Youth Service America.  His blog appears below.  We will miss Chris as he returns to BC, and wish him a fun-filled successful year at school.  Last year, Chris and his friends raised over $2500 for a school in Tanzania.  We wonder what he will do this year?  Any ideas, Chris? 

Clean Water Fuels Education
 Editor’s Note: As students head back to school, YSA is highlighting education and service in our Back to School Education blog series. Read blog posts from students, educators, and service-learning experts about their experiences with education and service.

Chris Olmanson discovered his passion for serving others through the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization H2O for Life. He has organized three H2O for Life fundraisers, the first two at Wayzata High School in Minnesota and the most recent at Boston College (BC) in Massachusetts. He is a sophomore at BC, planning to major in international studies with a focus on social justice issues. Patty Hall, Co-founder of H2O for Life, also wrote blog post for our Education series and it is posted in an earlier post.
Everything started in 11th grade when I found out that my high school had partnered with a nonprofit called H2O for Life and we were supposed to raise $5,000 for a school in the Philippines that needed clean and accessible water. My high school needed suggestions to raise funds and I had an idea that could potentially work. I was a cross-country runner and baseball player up to this point in high school, but because of seasons riddled with injuries, I did not performed near the level that I had dreamed. In all honesty, I saw this opportunity as a way to make a name for myself, to do something significant after a slow-start to high school, and to have something to put on my college resume. Man, did I get way more in return.

I asked my brother and close friend for help to organize a walk-a-thon fundraiser. We gathered a group of students to walk two miles to and from school each day in December to raise money for H2O for Life. We received an overwhelming response as we ended up raising $25,000, allowing us to provide several more schools with water systems. H2O for Life then provided us with photos of the children that we were helping and pen pal letters from the students at the Philippines school. It was incredible because we had changed the lives of real kids! Before the water system, the kids walked hours every day to retrieve contaminated water; wasting time that could be spent in the classroom learning and often getting sick from this water. Also without accessible latrines, girls would often stop going to school once they reached puberty. It was incredible to think that our little fundraiser could change all of this.

I felt like I had a legitimate purpose in life through this fundraiser and wanted to continue my work, so we did it again my senior year and then I did one my freshman year in college. I definitely felt like there were kids depending on me to do this. I am planning on majoring in International Studies with a focus on social justice issues and I am particularly interested in helping solve the global water crisis. H2O for Life was a phenomenal charity to work with and I have them to thank for developing my passion to serve.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Youth engagement will change our world!

H2O for Life and our good friends at Youth Service America encourage all teachers and youth to find an issue that will feed your passion this school year.  We at H2O for Life, feel very strongly that without access to a reliable water source, sanitation and hygiene education, nothing will change permanently for communities around he world. The current drought and horrific famine in Somalia and Kenya are examples of our "disaster relief" approach.  If we could be more proactive and spend funds on sustainable projects, our dollars would be better spent.  What if Somalia had adequate water resources?  Perhaps they would be able to grow sufficient food.  We know that by providing water, sanitation and hygiene education at schools, we are changing opportunities and changing lives for students and their entire communities.  Won't you help us this year?  Choose a school project.  Your actions will make a difference.

Read our recent blog posted at

Monday, August 15, 2011

Visit to Mozambique

Tom McDow, a great friend and supporter of H2O for Life recently visited 3 projects in Mozambique that received funding from H2O for Life schools. While visiting Zobue School, he re-connected with Janet, a young Peace Corps volunteer from Los Angeles, who is spending two years teaching at the school. Tom met her on a previous trip and asked her how the completion of the new well has affected the students and community. She responded by saying:

“It has transformed the community! Instead of walking 15 to 30 minutes to fetch water, or hand digging shallow holes in the dry river bed, the women now come to the school well and carry home fresh, clean water. Students who used to spend hours fetching water for their families now are able to attend school full days because the water well is so close. The well has improved both the health and the productivity of the village. And it is used all day long every day!”

We hear comments like this everyday from schools that have received water, sanitation and hygiene education projects.  Your donations to H2O for Life, however large or small, are changing the world.  Please continue to "think" about the water crisis, and take action to do what you can to be part of the change!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The following item is reposted with permission from the blog of Global Water Challenge

Tomorrow’s Smiles

Somewhere in the world, a broken water pump sits idle in a field. A few years ago, a well-intentioned group installed the system and captured terrific pictures of smiling children as the mayor cut the ribbon on the new pump. Clean, fresh water started flowing and the community sprang to life. Until the pump broke. Now, those children don’t smile as they miss school and trek long distances to fetch water from a dirty river. They don’t smile as their family and friends get sick from waterborne disease and they don’t smile when their community falters without safe water. The money that funded that pump has disappeared down drain and the good days of flowing water feel like a pipe dream.

Today, a group of leading organizations has united to make sure that the water never stops flowing. Over 20 organizations that work in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) have endorsed the WASH Sustainability Charter. This Charter is a collaboratively-developed mission and set of guiding principles that advance lasting solutions in WASH. Recognizing that a broken pump affects everyone, endorsers include donors, implementers, academics and WASH implementation coalitions. All have agreed to strive toward the key sustainability principles outlined in the Charter and will work together to encourage and empower all stakeholders to achieve these principles.

By aligning the WASH community around common principles and adopting these ideals in our work, we can do our part to keep clean water flowing and toilets working. By providing a consistent framework for ongoing learning, we can develop best practices that ensure solutions last for generations, not years.

Click here to read the Charter and join the movement.

(via Global Water Challenge)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another GREAT year for H2O for Life schools!

H2O for Life would like to thank every school, group and individual donor that helped us raise close to $400,000 this year to bring water, sanitation and hygiene education to schools in need around the world.  In the past four years, our schools have donated over 1 million dollars for the implementation of WASH projects in schools. (water, sanitation and hygiene education)  That is incredible.  Most of the funds are raised by youth through creation of multiple, inexpensive fund raising ideas. Students across the US, Canada and other schools from around the world that have joined us, have studied the issues of the global water crisis, and have said "enough is enough!"  We can do something to change this.  You, too, can get involved and help change and save lives!  It's easy- and doesn't take the involvement of hundreds of people.  Take a look at a recently posted video by Boston College on our facebook page.  A small group of college students (10-12) funded a water project for Longa School in Tanzania.

Over these past four years, the staff and volunteers at H2O for Life have been amazed at the multitude of ideas that have been used by youth to engage their friends, schools and entire communities to take action. We want to share the ideas with you to help your project succeed. Our website,  facebook page and our weekly newsletter will continue to add new ideas, new resources and support for you and your school to make a difference.

Our list of schools is being compiled now, with new additions being added daily.  Please visit our available school partner list, choose a school today, and get ready to "Dig Deep" to be the change over the next school year.  We have several exciting opportunities to share with you as the school year approaches- stay tuned!

Our newly revised educational tool-kit will also be available and in your hands by Sept. 1.  The tool-kit again be available online as well. 

H2O for Life schools have accomplished a lot in four years, but there is more to be done.
Join us today.  Register your project online at or call us! (651-756-7577)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Children understand the need! You can help make his wish come true.

Children in our schools rarely give a second thought to water and bathrooms that are abundantly available in our schools.  We received a copy of a handwritten note from a young boy, Saif, in Pakistan through our implementing partner, Save the Children.  Saif mentions that his village water source was destroyed in a recent flood.  He said that diarrhea was a huge problem, and the mothers had to walk out of the village to collect drinking water.  His note was requesting that Save the Children complete a WASH in Schools project in his school.  He said,  "I will play our role."  The community and the children are willing to help with construction, and form hygiene clubs that manage and help sustain the project- all they are doing is asking for help to provide an essential basic need- WATER!

Translation of the letter from Urdu to English:

Mr. Badar Sahib, Assalamualaikum!

Eid greetings to you, your family and your team. At this happy occasion of eid I would also like to say that we should not forget our brothers and sisters whose houses have been washed away by the flood. At the same time I want o divert your attention towards another important issue which has made hundreds of thousand lives of the children at risk i.e. “un-availability of safe drinking water” as you know water is an integral part of our life, but safe water. As you know that diarrhea is one of the main causes of mortality amongst children, and every year hundreds of thousand children die due to it. Polluted water contributes 30-30% to this problem. I also learned in Child Focused health Education (CFHE) sessions by Save the Children that polluted water causes many other problems as well. The current flood destroyed water channels and other water sources across the country. My village is also one of the effected villages, which has directly affected me, my SHN CFHE group fellows and rest of the children of my town. The flood damaged the village water supply scheme. We temporally get water from the stream which is not safe water. My group children and some other children refused to drink that water. My mom and some other women of the village Fitch the water from a water source out of the village for drinking purpose, but we use stream water for washing cloths and taking shower etc.

I request Save the Children to solve this issue. We will play our role.

“Water is life”


Saif Ur Rehman

CFHE Volunteer

Peshora village, District and Tehsil, Batgram

Water IS life!
 Everyday, H2O for Life asks teachers and students to help make this wish come true.  Won't you also help Saif and others obtain water, toilets and hygiene education at their schools?
Gather your friends, or individually make a donation in Saif's name at: 

Thank You!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Prairie Crossing Project

Prairie Crossing, Illinois students create an all school event!

Chelsea Curran and Lauren Rudolf choose H2O for Life and the water crisis as a focus for a school assignment. They set up six informational stations and challenged their school to walk for water in honor of Earth Day.  The girls went above and beyond the assignment guidelines, writing a 20-25 research paper and putting in over 50 hours of time to organize the event.  The girls raised funds to help bring water, sanitation and hygiene education to a school in Tanzania.  To read the local newspaper article, click on the link below:

Congratulations, and thanks, girls for your inspiration and passion!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

HB Woodlawn and others walk for water

March, April and May have certainly been the months that have seen the greatest numbers of water walks for H2O for Life.  H2O suggested walking on April 16th to collaborate with Global Youth Service Day, and many schools were able to join us. We have heard results from many schools, and so far, schools have raised over $70,000 for water- just by walking! Incredible.

On Saturday, April 21, Patty Hall, H2O for Life President, flew into DC to attend the HB Woodlawn walk for water at Potomac Overlook Park. The weather was gorgeous, the trail run was fantastic, and over 300 runners turned out for the event.  HB students, faculty and an energetic parent group organized the event.  It was a "real" race venue.  Runners had official times, and prizes were awarded for many categories.  The real winners are the students at Baliarpur School in Bangladesh, and HB's partner school in Haiti.  Close to $14,000 was raised by the first annual HB Woodlawn run/walk.  The partner schools will recieve water, sanitation an hygiene education thanks to the efforts of the students.  What a treat to see one of our schools in action. Kudos to teacher Cecelia Allen for her dedication and inspiration to her school. 

Other news:
Two weeks ago, Rockford School in Minnesota, hosted a walk for water and a carnival.  They successfully raised over $11,000.  Not only are walks successful, but they also give students and others the opportunity to "feel" the distance that others walk multiple times daily for water.  Students may also gather donations from family and friends, which ultimately helps the school reach their funding goal for their partner school. At Rockford, students were challenged to EACH raise $30 to walk.  240 students achieved that goal. 

Centerville Elementary School in Minnesota raised over $2900 over the course of the year by sponsoring several engaging events, while teaching about the water crisis.  Their culminating event ended with their principal- a really good sport- being "slimed" with something green and gooey.  (see the video on our facebook and youtube page) The great news- he asked the kids why they were doing  the activity, and most hands went up with the answer- to help our partner school have water. 

Every penny, nickel, dime and dollar that is raised by schools makes a difference.  Whether your project raises five dollars or five thousand dollars, we hope that kids are learning about the water crisis, and are realizing that they can change the world.

Enjoy springtime. The school year is winding down.  Don't forget about H2O for Life.  Drop us an email, and commit to your project for next fall.  We'll work through the summer to gather all the materials that you need when you return to school after the break.

Thanks for all that each and everyone of you are doing.  We can change the world, and we can do it by providing a needed water, sanitation and hygiene education intervention one school at a time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Walk for Water- around the country

On April 16th, many H2O for Life schools celebrated Global Youth Service Day by hosting "Walks for Water" at their schools, local parks, and in Minnesota, at Target Field, home of the TWINS Baseball team.
Schools raised awareness of water issues worldwide, and raised funds for global school partners through donations.  Many of our partners supplied water containers so that participants could experience the hardship of carrying water for distances. All walks had their own individual flavor and fun.  Some were blessed with great weather, and some, not so much!  The walk in Minnesota competed with 2 inches of snow and 40 degree weather. All agreed that carrying water was difficult, and that rain, snow, hot sun and other variables made it even more challenging.

Thanks for all the schools and organizations that hosted walks for water, and for those that are still planning walks before the end of the school year.  Your efforts will change lives.

H2O for Life recently received a call from a teacher in Colorado. To paraphrase, she said, I met one of your presenters at the National Social Studies Convention.  He made a statement that resonated with me and also with my students. He said "Ask your students this question.  Do you want to be the student in the class that just filled a seat, or do you want to be the student that changed the world."  Her students have stepped up, and are working to make a difference!  Challenge your students, your youth group, your church and yourself to be the person that changes the world.  You know you can!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

National Youth Leadership Council-Service Learning conference in Atlanta!

The NYLC service learning conference is always a magnificent event.  This year was no exception. The conference was hosted by the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, GA.  The forum hosted great speakers, interesting service opportunities in the Atlanta area, and a varied exhibit hall.

H2O for Life lead several presentations as well as an exhibition booth and a photo display at the event.  We had student speakers from Abington High School, PA, Quaker Valley Middle School, PA and Heber Hunt School.  We also met many other H2O for Life schools that were attending the event from Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Jersey, California, Texas, Missouri and other states as well. 

Youth Service America was also attending the event- don't forget to register your service project on their website if you are doing anything between April 15-17th.  The numbers should soar past one million participants once again this year.

Mary Rodgers and her students from Abington High School gave a wonderful presentation about their continuing work with H2O for Life.  They have partnered with schools for the past 4 years.  Imagine the impact their efforts have made on the water world.  Several of the students are serious about planning and starting a water college for training in developing countries.  We love their enthusiasm and their creativity and hard work to pursue this amazing idea.  We do believe that the youth of today will change the world.

We also had the opportunity to work closely with Mr. Brian Wolovich and his band of 12 sixth graders- and Karen- the wonderful librarian that was brave enough to come along and help!  These young people had a lot of energy, and were always well behaved, and ready to go.  They  took part in a presentation that was attended by over 60 people. Each student had a role in the presentation.  The students were poised, prepared and shared their passion for the work they have done this past year.  They created a great video that is available on our facebook page and on our website as well. Their edible aquifer, while messy and a little chaotic, was tasty and fun for all. Thanks for attending and sharing your H2O for Life project.  I think Quaker Valley convinced many other teachers and students that they too could help change lives for a school around the world.

At the conference, H2O for Life in collaboration with NYLC announced a "Call to Action" for help in Japan.  Between now and June 15th, we are asking students, youth groups and schools to plan a "Walk for Water" that will help rebuild the water and sanitation systems for the areas that were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami.  All the proceeds raised through H2O for Life donations will flow to our partner NGO, Mercy Corps.  100% of the money raised will be sent to Japan.  For further information, visit our dedicated webpage:   You will find donation forms, a tool kit to help you organize a walk, and posters and flyers to use for publicity. 

If you live in Minnesota, don't forget to come to Target Field on April 16th.  Today, students from Irondale High School Volunteered at the community booth at the stadium to promote the walk.  It was a beautiful day to be outside.  We hope that next Saturday, you'll join us.  Walk and raise awareness and funds for a great cause. Information is available on our website.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Magnificent work at Magnificat High School- Water Wednesdays!

Take two young ladies, teach them about the water crisis, and look out!  Grace and Maddie visited our H2O for Life booth in Kansas City last year, and became passionate about the need for water around the world.  The girls studied the issues, and approached their advisor, Ms. Higgins, with the plan to raise funds for Okio Primary School in Uganda.

After "much collaboration and many meetings, the idea of our Water Wednesday was born," said Grace.
Students would take a pledge to only drink water on Wednesdays, and donate their extra money to the project.

After seven Wednesdays, lots of publicity, and an overwhelmingly generous school community, the girls and the school reached their goal of $1350.

They said, "Magnificat has learned, not only how lucky we are to have water at our fingertips, but how it is part of our responsibility as human care for the less fortunate.

Thank you to the entire Magnificat High School student body, community and teachers  from Rocky River, Ohio, and a special thanks to Grace, Maddie and Ms. Higgins.  You saw a need and went into action!
Congratulations!  Your school has helped change the lives of students at Okio Primary School in Uganda.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"7 Songs for 7 Wells!"

Today, H2O for Life received a fantastic video from Grandville High School in Michigan.  Their school choose H2O for Life partnerships with 7 partner school projects in Nicaragua.  They came up with a unique and entertaining fund raising idea.  They titled it, "7 songs for 7 wells."  They did an all school "lipdub" challenge for the Guinness Book of Records.  They attempted to do the world's longest lip synch.  I don't know if they won, but the video is great to watch.  Talk about students and staff having fun together for a great cause! As we watched the video, we were amazed at the costumes, the planning and the fun that was shared by the whole school. Love the gym scene at the end.  Congratulations Grandville.  We will play your video at our Walk for Water on April 16th at Target Field as people line up for the event.

A note from Grandville teacher, Kelly Stouten:
"I just wanted to let you know that we've raised over $5000 - closer to 6 - so far and have a couple more fundraisers in store for the remainder of the year, so we will have no problem raising our goal amount. I'm sending you a link to the lipdup we did as an entire school. We made and sold t-shirts that the H2O logo on the front and said 7 songs for 7 wells (even though some of the project are for wash stations/latrines) on the back. It was a different fundraising idea that maybe others haven't heard of."


Thanks for sharing Kelly and students from Grandville.  You are AWESOME!

WARNING:  the video is about 15 minutes long- don't start unless you have time to finish watching-because you'll be hooked!

What can you do to raise the passion and the fun level in your school?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Speed Volunteering by Irondale High School

Thanks to Mrs. Karen Aalund, and Mrs. Mindy Handberg and their service group of volunteers that helped assemble "Rainmaker" bracelet kits at Irondale High School in MN this afternoon.  They worked hard and filled a bin with completed kits. Thanks to all!

Celebrate World Water Day!

Tuesday, March 22 is World Water Day.  What are you doing to raise awareness and help solve the world's increasing water problems?  There are many small things that we all can do to conserve water, and there are big things as well!  Here are several events that are taking place in the name of water.

This is one of the BIG events that can change water access for the world.  Kudos to the Senators that are leading the charge to pass the Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2011.

WASHINGTON DC, (March 18, 2011) — Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate yesterday by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) would put the United States in the lead of responding to the worldwide safe drinking water and sanitation crisis. The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2011 would commit the United States to extending safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and sanitation to 100 million people within six years. This major bipartisan initiative would put the United States at the forefront of addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for drinking water and sanitation.

The WASH Advocacy Initiative commends Senators Durbin and Corker for their leadership on this important issue, and thanks the five other senators who have signed onto the bill as original cosponsors: Harry Reid (D-NV), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
“We applaud the leadership of Senator Durbin, Senator Corker, and their colleagues in working to provide 100 million people in developing countries with sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” said Gary White, Chairman of the WASH Advocacy Initiative. “This is one of the most effective – and one of the most efficient – actions the United States can take to improve health and alleviate poverty worldwide.” Each dollar invested in safe drinking water and sanitation provides an eight dollar (8:1) return on that investment in reduced healthcare costs and time savings.

Patti Simon, wife of the late Senator Paul Simon, said “We shouldn’t forget that the global water and sanitation challenge is solvable – we know the solutions today. This new legislation will help make those solutions a reality. Paul would be proud to see this bill being introduced to address an issue that was a priority for him in Congress, and pleased that leaders like Senator Durbin and Senator Corker are taking the challenge seriously."

“Access to safe drinking water is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize,” Assistant Senate Majority Leader Durbin said. “Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a mortal and long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. The United States needs to do much more to ensure that global water access is protected and expanded.”

“As a fiscal conservative, I realize the urgent need to dramatically reduce federal spending and be more efficient with our resources – especially as it relates to our limited foreign aid budget. That means better focusing, targeting and coordinating our efforts to achieve results without authorizing more funding, which is exactly what the Water for the World Act does,” Senator Corker said. “A lack of clean water leads to the deaths of 1.8 million people a year – 90 percent of them children. It stifles economic growth, keeps women and girls from going to work and school, and contributes to political unrest that threatens our national security. For many reasons, I believe water is one of the wisest places we can focus our foreign aid.”

Almost one billion people currently lack access to safe water, and 2.6 billion people lack a way to dispose of their human waste safely. More than two dozen resulting diseases – including cholera – trigger the world’s most serious, and most solvable, public health problems. These diseases kill more children than AIDS, malaria and TB combined. Development experts point out that safe water and sanitation contribute markedly both to global health initiatives and to efforts to keep children in school, alleviate poverty, and empower women. Women and children, as the primary water-haulers across the developing world, bear the brunt of this crisis.

Another event: New focus and commitments for water this year!

3 H2O for Life Schools, Quaker Valley Middle School, PA, Abington High School, PA and HB Woodlawn, VA will attend the event as representatives of H2O for Life.  The students will be part of a high level event that will focus on bringing funds to the forefront of the water crisis.

Location: World Bank Atrium, Washington DC

Event: Water for the World, featuring high level leadership from the US State Department and the World Bank, and commitments from the philanthropic and corporate sectors to help solve global water challenges. The event will feature the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the US Government and the World Bank.

Small but important events:

We hope that all teachers, and especially teachers partnered with H2O for Life this year, will take a few moments to remind your students about the global water crisis, and the role that we all must play to be part of the solution! for ideas for your classroom, visit our website to find:
  • World Water Day Curricular Connections.
  •  View a video with your class.
  •  Find ideas to challenge your students to make a difference through small actions.     
Today, I visited Irondale High School.  The student service club held a "speed volunteering" activity.  They assembled hundreds of "Rainmaker" bracelet kits for H2O for Life.  These kits will be available for schools and youth groups around the world. The purpose of the bracelet:
  • Buy a kit, and proceeds support a WASH in Schools project
  • Become a Rainmaker- tell others about the water crisis
  • Wear the bracelet in support of H2O for Life and the work we do (schools, students, and H2O for Life) to "be the change!" 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Running Dry"- A look at the Global Water Crisis

Several years ago, a good friend introduced me to a  video called "Running Dry".  There was a scene in the video that showed a woman in a refugee camp walking to a truck and placing her dead child into the back of the truck like a cord of fire wood. The truck was filled with bodies of children.  She turned, and slowly walked away, sadly, and without a backward glance.  The scene depicted the desperation and hopelessness of the woman.  Her child died of starvation and lack of water. It made me cry. It also made me realize that I needed to try to do something to help solve this horrible, yet solvable crisis.  We always hope that H2O for Life is making a difference- a measurable difference- one school at a time.  After recently visiting Kenya and Tanzania, I know this is true.  The funds that YOU are raising at your schools, and the efforts you are putting into raising awareness of the water crisis in your schools and communities is a huge part of the work needed to educate our youth to "Be the Change, Save a Life".  The youth of today, will be the changemakers in our world.  We need to be sure they have the information and tools to do so.

Below is an article written by our friend, Jim Thebaut, the producer of "Running Dry"- and more educational vidoes about water.  Visit his website and view clips of the videos and find out more about what the Chronicles Group is doing.  We do have copies of "Running Dry" available.  It is geared for upper middle school and high school students.  If you wish to have a copy, please email us and we'll send one to you as long as we have them in stock.  Please read the article, and post your comments!

From the Desk of Jim Thebaut, The Chronicles Group
There is an effort by some Members of Congress to cut and/or stop funding Foreign Assistance programs. This is penny-wise and dollar-foolish because, in reality, the seeds of terrorism evolve from overwhelming poverty and the humanitarian crisis!

Foreign Assistance programs are a vital component of national defense and security assistance activity. It is imperative that Foreign Assistance programs be funded to allow NGOs and other humanitarian missions to uplift lives in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia and avoid the temptations of terrorism. It is critical to implement economic reforms in order to generate a viable societal paradigm shift. People don’t rebel and turn to terrorism because they are deep in poverty but because they are shut out of society and have no hope for the future.

Hope will come when people have access to water, sanitation, health care and education. It will come when there is humanitarian aid for refugees and disaster victims. It will come when entrepreneurs can get micro-loans.

As previously suggested in my February newsletter, let’s usher in a new era which utilizes grassroots organization and social networking tools in order to communicate with Congress and public officials the importance of funding Foreign Assistance which supports economic programs as well as improving social and environmental conditions in developing countries, specifically through the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act 2011. The legislation was introduced this week by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Bob Corker.

“Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize,” said Durbin in a March 18 press release. “Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. I hope the Senate can pass this legislation before this problem reaches a devastating tipping point.”

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Jim Thebaut

Chronicles Group

Don't forget to join H2O for Life to Walk for Water on April 16th.  Organize a walk at your school or in your community.  Remember, a small group can make a huge difference.  You may also register your service learning event at  Be counted in the over 1 million youth participating in service on April 16th.
Be the Change, Save a Life. • • donate

Chronicles Group
800 S Pacific Coast Hwy. #8 #328
Redondo Beach, CA 90277 Email Marketing by


From the Desk of Jim Thebaut

There is an effort by some Members of Congress to cut and/or stop funding Foreign Assistance programs. This is penny-wise and dollar-foolish because, in reality, the seeds of terrorism evolve from overwhelming poverty and the humanitarian crisis!

Foreign Assistance programs are a vital component of national defense and security assistance activity. It is imperative that Foreign Assistance programs be funded to allow NGOs and other humanitarian missions to uplift lives in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia and avoid the temptations of terrorism. It is critical to implement economic reforms in order to generate a viable societal paradigm shift. People don’t rebel and turn to terrorism because they are deep in poverty but because they are shut out of society and have no hope for the future.

Hope will come when people have access to water, sanitation, health care and education. It will come when there is humanitarian aid for refugees and disaster victims. It will come when entrepreneurs can get micro-loans.

As previously suggested in my February newsletter, let’s usher in a new era which utilizes grassroots organization and social networking tools in order to communicate with Congress and public officials the importance of funding Foreign Assistance which supports economic programs as well as improving social and environmental conditions in developing countries, specifically through the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act 2011. The legislation was introduced this week by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Bob Corker.

“Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize,” said Durbin in a March 18 press release. “Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. I hope the Senate can pass this legislation before this problem reaches a devastating tipping point.”

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The following are brief “Running Dry” video clips which provide depth and dimension to this discussion. Please circulate!

“Running Dry” intro

“Confronting the Crisis”

“Beyond the Brink” preview

Jim Thebaut

Chronicles Group • • donate

This message was sent to from:

Chronicles Group
800 S Pacific Coast Hwy. #8 #328
Redondo Beach, CA 90277 Email Marketing by

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spotlight on Village Schools International!

Recently, H2O for Life visited several school projects implemented by Village Schools International in Tanzania. H2O for Life has been partners with Village schools for two years. The site visits were eye-opening and amazing. Through telephone conversations, vetting of organizations thorough outside agencies, and numerous questions, nothing tells the story like a site visit. We met with Steve Vinton, the founder of Village Schools International. Steve and his family hosted us while in Tanzania, and we became educated about their work. The area around Iringa, where we were, is beautiful, but also very remote. We were only able to visit 4 schools out of the 20 due to the road conditions and the time it took to reach each school. Truly, we spent 9 hours in the car one day- stopped overnight, and arrived at Longa school the following day at noon. Was it worth it? You bet. The kids were delighted to see us, and we were thrilled to see their school.

Steve and his team have promised that they will visit every school and take more photos of the partner schools that we will be able to send to you. Every school design is the same- as a requirement of the Tanzanian Government, and all the students wear the same uniform colors. We will send you “generic” VSI photos that will give you a true picture of what the schools look like, and how they are configured. They are truly amazing given the location and community resources! Steve is also investigating the use of email between US and Tanzanian Schools.We'll keep you posted as that moves forward.

Village Schools International focuses on building secondary schools in villages. These are the small communities that you will have a hard time finding on a map. They are rural, mainly farming communities that survive on subsistence farming and community cooperation. In Tanzania, as with many school systems around the world, students are tested at the end of standard 8. If students do not score high enough on the test, their educational career is over. Students are tested in Tanzania in English, making it very difficult for a rural community to have many students that are able to pass the test. The students don’t have access to TV, radio or printed English materials which makes it hard to compete with “city” kids. Most students have never used a computer, and are just now, entering the cell phone culture. Village Schools has chosen to take on the challenge of offering form 1-6 education- similar to our high school and Jr. College- to ALL students. We met students that were innovative, smart and needed a chance to participate in higher education.

They have a terrific approach. Steve and his board of Tanzanian young men and women, visit villages. They inform the village that they can have a secondary school, if they are willing to build it! Village Schools will help provide the technical assistance and the materials that cannot be provided locally through sweat equity. (That’s where H2O for Life comes in!) They challenge the villagers to make the bricks, gather the needed sand and rocks, provide lumber that can be gotten from their land, and anything else that can be provided locally. Every family in the community knows how to make bricks and are willing to do so! They tell the village to let them know when they have the materials gathered. Amazingly, in the past two years, twenty villages have stepped up to the plate.

Village Schools International finds outside donors that will help with specific tasks that must be donated to complete the project. H2O for Life has joined forces to help with the water, sanitation and hygiene education for schools. The estimate needed to bring water, sanitation and hygiene education to each school is around $5000. As per our H2O for Life model, our schools will provide ½ of what is needed. Our H2O for Life schools partner with a school and set forth to raise $2500 for each project. The only reason that the projects can be done for this low price is due to the community labor and supply of materials.

Why does Village Schools have this expectation for each community?

They believe that by engaging the community to provide as many resources and labor hours as possible leads to true community ownership and pride. VSI’s goal is that the school will live long past the involvement of Village Schools and groups like H2O for Life.

On our visit to the schools, we had the opportunity to talk with parents, teachers and students. They are proud of the schools, and very grateful for the outside dollars that pushed the projects to completion.

VSI originally planned to build rainwater catchment at every school. They found. however, that some of the schools had a better plan. At Longa. Lukima and Madesi Schools for example, a gravity flow system with a RAM pump provides a wonderful source of water, that provides more than enough water for the schools. (H2O for Life funded the RAM Pump, the pipes and the needed cement)

Village Schools International also works very hard to engage English speaking volunteers in every school. This has resulted in a noted rise in test scores. Students are flocking to the schools. They accept all students, and some are beginning secondary education in their 20’s! Interested in volunteering?  We can help!

H2O for Life is all about education. We are proud to be partners with Village Schools International, and feel that they are producing exceptional WASH in Schools projects. To all of you supporting Tanzanian projects, thanks. Be proud of what your school has accomplished.

We will send new photos of Tanzanian schools, and are working on a video with footage taken with the kids.

Please let us know if there is more we can do for you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hand made quilt to be raffled off by the class

Whittier and Heber Hunt are popping with ideas!

We recently received an email from Whittier and Heber Hunt Schools.  They are partnered with Wangige School in Kenya.  They sent letters to the school, and are working hard to raise funds for the project.  Thanks to all the teachers and classes that stepped up to help with H2O for Life!

The schools are organizing many events.  They are currently engaged in a penny drive.  Think about it!  We all have piles of penny's floating around in our purses, cars, drawers- put them to use for a great project!  Recently, many schools celebrated 100 days of school.  What if you challenged your students to each bring in and count 100 pennies?  It all adds up. (What about the 200th day of school?- put it on your calendar.)

The school has planned a 5k run with H2O for Life being the recipient of the funds raised.  Add a few buckets of water, and you have a great lesson for kids to see what other kids around the world do daily- not for fun, but because they have to!  April 16th is the National "H2O for Life Walk for Water Day" in conjunction with Youth Service America.  Contact us to join- make the ripple a wave!

The students are also popping corn and selling lemonade during recess for several days in May.  Students handle the sales and learn how to sell and handle money.

During their choir concern that is being held tonight, the students are using photos from the Tool-Kit power point and photos of their partners in Wangigi to promote their H2O for Life project.  Photos teamed with a powerful song won't leave a dry eye in the house!

Whittier School has an enrollment of 40 students!  What is it that Margaret Mead said? "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citzens can change the world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

Thanks Heber Hunt and Whittier Schools.  You are teaching your students that it is possible to change the world!

Thursday, February 17, 2011