Friday, March 23, 2012

World Water Day is over, bu the Water Crisis lives on- take action!

Yesterday, in celebration of World Water Day,there were many articles that featured the global water crisis.  Many focused on problems and many focused on solutions.  We know that H2O for Life and our partner schools are part of the solution!

An article that we think is a "must read" for everyone may be found by accessing the link:

This article is one that should be studied with your classes!  Please take a moment to read it.

Today, we heard from 4th grade teacher, Regina F.  Her students are studying about ground water and conservation this week.  As part of an extra credit assignment, students were encouraged to find other internet resources on topics concerning water.  One of her students found us!  Now Regina, I hope you read about H2O for Life and find a way to have your students  take action to help us bring water to schools around the world.  We are promoting an EARTH Day Walk for Water nationwide!  You and your students are invited to plan a walk, and raise a few dollars to help a school in need.  I hope you'll consider it.

Regina also mentioned that her 4th grade student also found a connection promoting great conservation tips:  He sent us a link to share.  See if you are implementing all of the water saving tips suggested in the article.

EARTH DAY- April 22.  We are collaborating with Youth Service America to celebrate Earth Day and Global Youth Service Day.  Whatever you plan to do on Earth day as part of service, please register with  Be one of the over 1 million youth counted for service on EARTH Day weekend.

You'll find resources on our website to help you plan a Walk for Water!  Start planning today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Progress in Kenya

H2O for Life partners with Waterlines to implement WASH projects in Kenya.  Recently, Mark and Diane Reimers visited Kenya on behalf of Waterlines to complete a sustainability check on projects.
While there, they took a moment to interview several students about their lives, and the changes in their lives due to access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene education. 

Kiminanga School in Kenya

Mark and Diane Reimers, representing Waterlines and H2O for Life recently visited WASH in Schools projects in Kenya as part of a yearly site visit to Waterline’s projects. While visiting Kimananga School, teacher Lisa, helped conduct an interview with students. Mark and Diane talked with Edith Chentutai Class 6 and Aaron Kipyegon Class 6.

Edith and Aaron enjoy reading and playing futball when they are not in school. They are required to fetch water for their parents and family, Edith from a family of 8 members and Aaron from a family of 7 members. They pick the water from dams about 20 minutes away and carry the containers by hand or on their heads. The water is boiled for drinking and used for cleaning around the homes. Edith washes clothes every day for the family. It is much easier now that the students have access to water through a rainwater catchment system with a storage tank located on the school grounds.

Edith and Aaron spoke of another job that is unfamiliar to students in the United States. They “smear” the classroom floors and also their floors at home. The reason they “smear” is to control chiggers (mbuiukik), cockroaches and fleas (kimitek). If they do not smear, “the insects are too many.”

The mixture used for smearing consists of water, soil and cow dung. It is mixed in a basin by hand and then is smeared on the soil by hand or smeared with a broom.

Students have learned to pick up all rubbish and use a rubbish bin and a burning pit, and have learned to keep their classrooms clean.
The Health Club has taught the other students about dust bins and picking up rubbish in each
of the classrooms and on the compound. They dug a pit and they burn the rubbish there. They have planted trees and other bushes to make the place beautiful and to make oxygen for good breathing. The tank makes watering the plants easier.

Maurine Chelangat Langat – class seven and Nelly Chepngeno – class eight were asked to describe the toilets. The old toilets were “dangerous”. They could not be cleaned and had flies even though they put ashes in them. During rainy season they were muddy and slippery. They were afraid to use the toilets. When they needed to make a “long” or a “short” visit they would go back in the bushes behind the school. The new toilets can be cleaned easily with a brush and disinfectant. The floor does not get muddy. Maurine said; “We must teach the younger children how to use the toilet.”

Chemutai Stacy and Kigen Robinson are in Class eight. They described their job of filtering all the water through the bio-sand filter. Chemutai said; “Up to 2 years ago we were to bring water to school.” They went to the dam to get the water and carried it to use for drinking, washing and smearing. Sometimes the water for drinking at home was boiled. Sometimes it was not! NOW they may bring water to school (or get from the tank) and put it through the filter and take the clean, safe water home. Their containers now take good water home for use. The classes rotate days when the filtered water will go home. The students relayed that they are responsible at different times for cleaning the bio-sand filter. They clean the diffuser plate, carefully handle the algae layer, remove the top layer of sand to a basin where they use 2 liters of water, 3 times to wash the sand until it is clear. Then they place it back in the filter, add algae and the diffuser. The filter is now ready to work.

To be effective the bio-sand filter must be active. According to the teachers, keeping the sand filter active on the weekends and during school breaks “is not a problem.” There is always someone on the compound (this school appears to be quite open and the community feels welcome.) Waterlines had been told by Tenwek that some schools have rejected the bio-sand filters because it requires constant attention.

Tenwek Hospital, through Waterlines funding provides Child to Child training workshops for the headmasters and teachers, and often groups of student leaders. The training focuses on sanitation and hygiene education for the schools.

QUOTES from the Head Teacher Joseph K. Ngeno

“C-C (child to child) workshop and teaching AND the recent Head Teacher training is of great benefit. There is a great understanding throughout the school.

We have newcomers to the school because the students want to come to a place that is good.

The school is a resource center now; a place of interest. We thank Waterlines, H2O for Life and Tenwek because we are not what we used to be.”

Box 562

Sotik, Kenya

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

H2O for Life Celebrates World Water Week with stories from the field!

Next Thursday, March 22, please celebrate World Water Day with H2O for Life. For the past 5 years, H2O for Life has partnered with implementing partner, El Porvenir, in Nicaragua.  Rob Bell, the country director has been a pleasure to work with.  Several years ago, Patty Hall and Diane Klett, from Highview Middle School, MN signed on for a volunteer work trip through El Porvenir.  It was a trip of a lifetime.  We helped build a wash project for a community near San Lorenzo.  The structure provided a private bathing area, a place to wash clothes and access to clean water.  While visiting, we visited several H2O for Life school projects and were delighted to witness the difference that water and toilets make for a school.  Water changes everything!  If you are looking for a great experience for your school, your family or for you- check out El Porvenir.  Rob and the guides that were with us on the jouney were top notch.  We spent 6 days in the local community and then had a few days to see the volcanos and the rain forest areas.  Experiencing a zipline though the trees among the howler monkeys was an unforgettable moment.

If you haven't chosen a school partner through H2O for Life, NOW IS THE TIME!  There is plenty of time to learn about the global water crisis, and help a school that is in need of water.  Celebrate World Water Day by making a commitment to help!

Rob and his on the ground team in Nicaragua provided a look at the story of one young girl attending an H2O for Life partner school. 
Escuela Jose Marti, Nicaragua

H2O for Life and El Porvenir work in collaboration to provide WASH in Schools projects to schools in Nicaragua. Rob Bell and his team provided information about the impact of WASH on one local student from a school.

Escuela Jose Marti is located in the Camoapa area of Nicaragua in the town of Salgado. The school was built in 2000 by the government. It is one large room that is divided into two by a wooden wall. The school is concrete with a tiled floor and tin roof. It is blue and white and has shuttered windows that allow for ventilation during classes. The government also drilled a well for the school and built 2 latrines, however, they deteriorated and the well was no longer working. The community has committed to maintain the well and learn to take care of the latrines.

Raquel del Carmen Romero Garcia is fifteen. She has four siblings and lives with her mother, father and four siblings. She lives in a humble home made of wood with a tin roof and a dirt floor. There is a living room, kitchen and one bedroom. Her daily diet consists of beans and rice and once in a while, chicken. When fruits are in season, they add oranges, mango, guava and sweet lemons to their list of foods. The surrounding area is hilly with steep slopes. Raquel lives 5 km from Escuela Jose Marti.

Raquel relates that she has studied all her life in Escuela Jose Marti. She studies hard and says that mathematics is her most difficult class. She must walk an hour to and from school. She had to stop attending school for two years when her family had to move into the bush due to her father’s work.

When El Porvenir came to the village all the community was asked to help. Raquel tells us that her father contributed two work days per week until the well was completed.

Raquel tells us that when the well was not working, she had to go ask nearby homes to provide water. Sometimes the families had no water to give and the children went without until the end of the day. She said that by the time she returned home she was exhausted.

There was a watering hole nearby, but the water was not potable. The children carried the dirty water to the school to clean the school each day.

Today Escuela Jose Marti has a new well and new latrines. Here is what Raquel had to say:

“To have water is to have life, because without water, we cannot live, because we need it to carry out all our daily activities. Having the water closer makes me very happy because one of my duties is to clean the school every Friday and having access to water means I can participate more effectively in that activity.”

She also said;

“El Porvenir has helped a lot because the projects they develop benefit the environment; take care of the water and especially the health of the people.”

Raquel expresses that she listens to the El Porvenir radio program every Wednesday morning and from that has learned many things about personal, family and community hygiene. The project has been in place for 2 years now in the school and the community commitment is to maintain the well area, water the plants and trees in the school (so it looks nice around the well) and to be careful in the use of the rope pump so it lasts a long time. The parents have been maintaining the well.

Raquel’s opinion is that the money that was donated by H2O for Life and El Porvenir to this project was well invested and the construction of the well is very important. Also the latrines and washing and bathing station are very important, especially in the schools because that is the medium for teaching and changing habits and customs.

Raquel ended by saying, “As a student, I feel happy to be able to go to school every day, because I can learn something new and different every day.”

The well at Jose Marti

                                                  Building a Wash station on a volunteer trip

Students from Nicaragua