Sunday, January 30, 2011

                           Showing off the shirt from Thurgood Marshall
                               Newspaper articles from Thurgood Marshall
                                   Celebrating the Water Tank

The Masai Mara- a sight to behold!

After wrapping up business with our implementing partners in the Bomet-Kericho area of Kenya, we visited one last school on our way out of town.  Thurgood Marshall helped fund the project last year at Goitab Kalyet Primary.  Hey, US kids- all 7th and 8th grade students attend school for half the day on Saturdays!  It was great to greet the students, and one student modeled a shirt sent by Thurgood Marshall.  I hope to post it soon.
The project was completed, and the students have also planted over 500 trees on the school grounds to help conserve the soil, and replace trees that have been cut for firewood.

We then headed to Sarova Mara camp.  It was a long drive on very bad roads.  I think there is a theme here about the roads.  The camp is beautiful, and as always, my H2O for Life shirt caught the attention of the camp management.  The camp sponsors a Masai school nearby, and wanted to investigate future partnerships with H2O for Life.  We'll do further investigating, but the great plus that they provide is the chance for TEACHERS to volunteer at the school, with housing and transportation daily to and from the school provided by the camp.    Airfare is all that teachers pay.   That would be a great opportunity for many of you who wish to visit Kenya.  If interested, please contact us.

We have had several interesting game drives.  Today we witnessed a cheetah kill of a gazelle.  The cheetah was unbelievably fast!  We watched the mother and her kittens settle in for a meal that would last most of the day.  We also saw lions, a rhino, giraffe and a large variety of other animals.

The weather in Kenya is beautiful, but so dry.  The country needs rain! As we follow the weather back home in the US, it seems as if winter will not let the East Coast escape.  We are rather enjoying the sun and the heat!

We'll visit Kathungu area soon- the home of our first project with Highview Middle School.  It will be wonderful to see old friends.
Enjoy the day!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kericho Area-Visit to schools

Jambo! Today we visited 5 more schools to finish out our visit with Tenwek Community Health Center.
We viewed fantastic projects, and met wonderful community members, teachers and students.  We also learned a lot about the local health issues and the water issues within their region.  We had time to talk on the dusty roads between schools.  Truthfully, the trip today was much easier than yesterday!

We saw completed projects and projects in progress. At one school, the workers were digging a 3 ft X 8 foot, 40 foot hole for the pit latrines.  The man digging was down at the bottom.  He would fill a bucket with dirt, and his partner would pull the dirt up to the top.  40 feet is a long way down.  To get out of the hole, his partner would lower a rope, and he climbed out much as a mountain climber would do.  In the US, the safety groups would be cringing!

We visited a secondary school and a young lady gave a moving presentation.  She arrived at the school several years ago when the water and sanitation project was not completed at her school.  She told of sickness and time wasted due to walking for water.  Since the projects completion, she has witnessed amazing results.  She is the Treasurer of her Health Committee in her school, and challenged all the students to be more aware of washing hands, drinking improved water and keeping the school clean.  The students are moved by the fact that it is other students that are providing 1/2 of the funds that make the projects possible.  We challenged them to work hard, become leaders in their country and pass on the gift that has been given to them.  At each school, thanks to the help of our wonderful friends, we were able to give a soccer ball to the school.  The students, typical of kids around the world, were more excited about the ball than the projects at the schools.  AND they should be.  Our students don't worry about the facilities, and we hope kids around the world can be kids and enjoy their days at school with adequate basic needs being met.

We were treated at each stop with sodas, breads, cookies, rice and goat stew- WAY too much!  We have found the people of Kenya to be very generous, and happy to meet visitors. 

Tomorrow we wrap up at Tenwek, and head for a few days at the Masai Mara for "vacation". 
We'll add photos to the blog space, but won't be adding stories until we are back on the road to schools.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WASH Projects in Bomet Kenya

Today we had the opportunity to visit 5 schools previously partnered by H2O for Life in the Bomet area of Kenya.  Mr. Jonathan Bii and his team escorted us on our visits.  They represent Tenwek Community Health Center, and they are doing amazing things in the community.  The water, sanitation and hygiene education programs are only a small part of what they do.  Their goal is to educate the community on pressing health concerns, and empower the local community groups to define goals and take action to reach the goals.

Our first stop was a visit to Kapsoiyo Primary School.  Their project was funded by Wayzata High School, in MN.  A note to the Wayzata students-  Every photo and letter that has been sent to Kapsoiyo is proudly displayed in their classrooms.  They hope you will continue to write more letters.  We were able to view the completed water tank and wonderful latrines.  An additional 14 latrines were built at the school, which has changed lives for the children.  Teachers have assured us that illnesses have decreased, and their enrollment has climbed.  Great results!

We then visited several other schools.  Among them was Moriko School, partnered with Coventry Christian Academy located in Pennsylvania, and Amory School in Mississippi.  You will be receiving  photos and pen pal letters upon our return to the US.

Our last stop was at Kamabwai Primary School, partnered with Lewiston High School.  We had a fabulous lunch consisting of rice, greens and a goat stew!  It really was delicious.  The students, teachers and parents were very welcoming- AND the parents were beginning to dig the holes for the pit latrines and the base of the water tank. The parents provide labor and many of the locally available materials for the project. The community is working hard to do their part to make the project a success.  Again, great photos will be sent to Lewiston shortly- and letters.  So....start writing a return letter.

I "heard" that H2O for Life was featured on Good Morning America this morning.  I can't wait to see the clip and learn more about it.  If you missed it, I'm sure you can find it on the ABC website.  That is my next stop if the computer connection is willing.  Sometimes it works great and at top speed, and the next moment, it is barely moving along.

Don't forget that H2O for Life is sponsoring a "Walk for Water" on April 16th.  For details, visit our home page for links.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

                             Messiah Photo held by students at their partner school in Kenya!!

Mugugu primary School, Kenya, connects with Messiah Church in MN

Today we visited Mugugu Primary School in Kenya along with members of Messiah Church located in MN.  The Messiah congregation, with a large focus on their youth group, completed a holiday project to raise funds to bring Iko-Toilets to their partner school.  The Messiah visitors took many  photos of the schoo, studentsl and the partially completed project.  They also brought along soccer balls for the school to replace the rag tag balls that students were currently using.  The old balls were made of strings, paper and plastic bags.  Needless to say, the new colorful balls were appreciated.  The Messiah Youth Group also donated a pencil per student- not a small task when there are over 900 students attending the school. Pen pal letters are being written and will be brought to MN when the members of the team return.
Our visits at the Iko-Toilet schools are completed.  We left Mugugu and headed to Bomet, Kenya to visit a new batch of schools.  On our way to Bomet, we drove along the Great Rift Vally and were able to see spectacular views.  We also had a contest to see who would see the first wild animal.  Of course, Tom, our seasoned game drive expert, spotted the first one  way before anyone else.  The first animal? Zebras! They were quickly followed by gazelles, and monkeys.  These animals were mixed among the local cows and goats. 

 Upon reaching Tenwek Hospital, we enjoyed a walk to an impressive local dam that provides water and electricity to the large compound.  Hidden within the rural area of farms, we found Tenwek Hospital to be amazing.  They have over 600 staff members and they serve a large population of people every day.  One of their programs, and our reason for the visit, is their outreach to schools to provide water, sanitation and hygiene education.  We delivered 3 large screen tents to the hospital that will be used in the field as mobile treatment centers.  They are doing incredible work.  We joined our hosts for a Kenyan meal of sukuma wiki (greens in sauce), a chicken with vegetable stew and delicious mashed potatoes.  The seasonings used are very different from what we normally eat, and provided a tasty meal.

Tomorrow we will visit a number of schools in the surrounding area.  The roads are challenging and quite dusty. We'll be thirsty but after all, our journey is all about WATER!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kirangari,Wangige, Nderi Schools-a visit to remember!

Today, H2O for Life and Iko-Toilet staff visited more schools in Nairobi, Kenya. 
The children at the schools are always excited to be visited, and greeted us warmly.  We delivered pen-pal letters, photos, stickers and a beautiful hand-made world flag that was designed by'Mrs. Hays' Valentine Hills second grade class  in Minnesota.  The banner will brighten up the walls and lighted up the smiles of the children.

At Nderi School, Retired Northwest-Delta Pilot, Steve Hall, entertained a standard 8 class with stories about his flying career.  The students had recently read a story about pilots, and they were very interested.  Captain Hall stressed the importance of education and hard work as a road to success. As in all schools around the world, the students are dreaming of what they want to "be" when they grow up. 

The pen-pal letters were a hit with the students, and in return, letters will be delivered back to the US shortly.
We know the letters will be treasured.

The school projects are in varying stages of completion, and the schools are looking forward to using their new toilets and handwashing stations.  Thank you to all the schools for your efforts and the time taken to write letters and send items to your new friends in Kenya. As the "messengers" we had a beautiful day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Day in Kenya- and it's all about Toilets and Handwashing!

Today we visited four schools surrounding Nairobi in the Kikyu District. It was amazing to not only see the projects, which we can do through photos, but to hear the teachers and the students express how much they love their new Iko-Toilets at the schools.  Iko-Toilets are an innovative sanitation system that provides flush toilets in areas that previously have only had access to pit latrines.  Hand-washing stations are also included.  The system contains bio-digesters to break down the waste into methane gas, and also seperates out the urea.  Both are saleable items, and will add to the sustainability of the project in the future.  But the best thing about Iko-Toilets is the excitement of the children- over toilets!

Among visited schools was Kamangu School, sponsored in part by Dayton City School in Tennesee,  The students sang songs to us, and told us they hope to hear from their friends in TN.  Send us those letters! We have letters to deliver to you upon our return.

Did you know?  Kamangu  School hosted a Guiness Book World Record setting event on Global Hand Washing Day!  Over 19,000 students gathtered at Kamangu to wash their hands together and celebrate the day.  Many of the students walked for 3 hours- the entire 500+ students-each way to attend the event.

 Let's show OUR comittement by coming out in force on April 16th to support H2O for Life's WALK for WATER!!  We are only asking you to walk a 5K route while carrying water and gathering donations to assist schools in need around the world  YOU can make a difference, just like the kids at Dayton City School in Tennesee.  Check for details on our website.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day- Make it a Day ON, Not a Day Off!

Across the nation today, we are celebrating Martin Luther King Day- a Day to remember a man that believed in peaceful change and service.  As this day is celebrated in his honor, we hope you think of how you can keep his dreams alive.  Recent events in our country have pointed out that many people are angry, have lost hope, and are reacting through violence.  After reading many articles about the shootings in Arizona, the one common thread that resonates is that we all need to work very hard to be kind to one another.  Would this have changed the shooters mind?  I don't know- but as a teacher, I realized that sometimes just a "hello" in the hallway, and a smile could change the day for a students.  We all want to feel a sense of worth and belonging. 

H2O for Life is working in collaboration with Youth Service America on a Semester of Service: WATER.  We believe that challenging youth to "SERVE" rather than "being served" is a paradigm shift that is powerful.  Studies have proven that engaging students in meaningful, relevant educational activities results in learning that can be life changing.  We hope you, as a student or teacher or interested individual, will pause and take a moment to think about a topic that drives your passion.  If you don't know what your passion is, we invite you to partner with a school in need of water, sanitation and hygiene education.  We know that once you connect with a partner school, your passion will follow.

On this celebratory day, please commit to engage in an activity that will benefit someone other than yourself!

Need an idea?  We have one for you.

Tap in to Tap Water Challenge

• Make water your only beverage on Martin Luther King Day, January 17th

• Save the money you would have spent on beverages

• Donate the money to H2O for Life through your school, business or group

• or donate online at

Want to do more?  Involve your school, business or friends and family to take the challenge.  You can do this on any day or days and donate to H2O for Life!  It's easy, and will make a difference.

Give the gift of water and sanitation to a school around the world.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Read the text from a recent Blog and visit the Blogsite as well!

WASH in Schools: A Simple Solution to a Public Health Crisis
.There is no single intervention that will improve global health faster than providing access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene education to literally 1/3 of the world’s population.

.The statistics are staggering. Nearly one billion people lack access to safe water. Over two billion lack access to proper sanitation. Over half of the schools in the world lack access to a latrine.

In 2004, the World Health Organization estimated that 88% of diarrheal disease in developing nations was caused by unsafe water supplies, inadequate sanitation and hygiene. The number of school days lost due to diarrheal illness alone was 1,863,000,000. Nearly 2,000,000 children under the age of five will die this year alone due to a preventable disease such as diarrhea. There is no time to waste when “quick-wins” are in our reach.

There is good news. This is a solvable situation. However, it requires immediate action. There is no time to wait for the “big fix.” Small, immediate, proven steps can be taken by individuals, organizations, churches, businesses and schools to provide WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene education) at thousands of schools throughout the world.

How can you help?

H2O for Life is a 501c3 organization dedicated to bringing improved w ater, sanitation and hygiene education to schools in developing nations by engaging students, businesses, faith based organizations, fraternal clubs and others in developed nations through service-learning projects. U.S. participants learn about the global water crisis and develop an action plan to raise funds to bring water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) to their partner school. Participants learn that they can be activists for change by improving life’s circumstances, educational opportunities and the health of the students at their partner school.

In developing nations, school children need clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene education to be able to learn. Yet half of the world’s schools lack safe water. More than half lack an adequate latrine. With no safe way to dispose of human waste, diseases such as typhoid, cholera, schistosomiasis and worm infections flourish. Illness related to water and sanitation kill 4,500 children a day. H2O for Life offers a solution to this solvable public health crisis. One of the most important approaches is to provide improved drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education to schools in developing countries.

It’s easy to partner with a school in need in a developing country. Please visit:  to find out how YOUR group can join us and TAKE ACTION to bring water, sanitation and hygiene education to schools in need around the world.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stillwater Jr. High interviewed by PBS

A Powerful Partnership for Learning and Service:

Stillwater Junior High School, 3 Lost Boys of Sudan, H2O For Life and Water For Sudan

SJHS Students Raise More Than $11,000 To Fund Wells in Southern Sudan

The Lost Boys of Sudan are 27,000 boys orphaned during the 2nd Sudanese Civil War who undertook an incredible journey to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, enduring separation from families, war, hunger, wild animals and disease. In 2001, 3800 were resettled in the U.S. They Poured Fire On Us From the Sky is the story of three Lost Boys - Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng and Alephonsion Deng.

For the past two school years, 9th grade AP Human Geography students at Stillwater Junior High School in Stillwater, Minnesota have read and responded to They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky. Thanks to grants from the Partnership Plan for Stillwater Schools and District #834 Diversity Funds, co-authors Benjamin Ajak (2009) and Benson Deng (2010), have travelled from San Diego, California to Stillwater to share their experiences as Lost Boys of Sudan. Benjamin and Benson each spoke with more than 300 Geography students in classrooms and with the Stillwater community via evening public presentations. Through this experience, students have learned that one of the most critical issues facing Southern Sudan today is the lack of access to clean, safe water.

A chance meeting in San Diego between Patty Hall, founder of H2O For Life (a Minnesota non-profit organization dedicated to bringing clean water and sanitation to schoolchildren around the world) and a friend of Judy Bernstein, editor and mentor to Benjamin, Benson and Alepho, sparked a new partnership. When Patty first learned that Benjamin would be speaking in Stillwater in December 2009, she contacted Stillwater AP Human Geography teacher Sara Damon and suggested Benjamin’s visit serve as a catalyst to build a relationship between Stillwater Junior High students, H2O For Life and Water For Sudan.

Thanks to this powerful partnership, Stillwater Junior High students not only have a deeper understanding of geography concepts related to culture, migration and the refugee experience, but are also able to contribute to a better future for the family and friends of the Lost Boys. Collaborating with Water For Sudan is especially meaningful for Stillwater students, as the organization was founded by Salva Dut, himself a former Lost Boy.

During the 2009-2010 school year, students set a goal of raising $5000, to be matched by Water For Sudan for the construction of a well for a village in Southern Sudan. Students met and exceeded that goal - selling t-shirts, bracelets and tickets to Benjamin Ajak’s public presentation, bagging groceries at a local Cub Foods store, and speaking with and seeking donations from Stillwater Rotary Clubs. Additional donations were provided by local bookstore Valley Bookseller, the Minnesota Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and H2O For Life.

2010-2011 fundraising efforts kicked off with a Walk For Water in September. More than 100 Stillwater Junior High students, staff and family members collected pledges and walked 6 kilometers (15 laps on the school track) carrying 6 liters of water, symbolizing the walk for water taken by students in developing countries on a daily basis. In addition, students sold t-shirts and tickets for Benson’s Deng’s evening presentation and are looking forward to a forthcoming donation from the Stillwater Area High School National Honor Society based on proceeds from their annual coffeehouse event. Some 9th graders decided to “pay it forward” and have donated their holiday cash gifts. As of January 2011, students have raised more than $6800 and are well on their way to meeting this year’s goal of $10,000 to fund two additional wells.

Read student responses to They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky and Benson Deng’s visit here:

Learn more about H2O For Life here:

Learn more about Water For Sudan here:

For further information, contact Sara Damon at  or 651-351-6952.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Join us for a Semester of Service: WATER- Kick it off on MLK Day!

Tap  in to Tap WATER for Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day is a dedicated day of service! It is  your opportunity to join America and step into service. You can make a difference.  H2O for Life is challenging you, your school, your business or whatever group you can gather (could be your family!) to "TAP in to Tap Water!"  On January 17th, drink only tap water for the day- donating any funds you would have spent on beverages to H2O for Life and our WASH in Schools projects.  Every donation makes an impact for a school in a developing country.  Make it an all school focus, and add funds to your partner school project.

I visit my local coffee shop every morning and spend over $4.00 on a Latte.  Just think, if 100 of my friends gave up their latte for one day- we could raise $400.  It's pretty easy!  What if every person in your school gave a donation?  It's the power of numbers!

Now, other than my daily latte, I also have a juice or another cup of coffee while at work.  I imagine that I spend at least $8-10 on beverages without even blinking!  On January 17th I'll be donating to H2O for Life.  In fact, I think I'll challenge myself to give up my latte's for the week.  I'll donate $28 for water!  What can you do?

Stay tuned for more information on Semester of Service, and how we can help you learn about the Global Water Crisis, while taking action.