Submitted by the family of Joseph, a student at the Wellington Catholic District School Board
Last September Joseph, a grade 5 student at a Wellington CDSB Catholic elementary school, complained to his parents about having to do his chores. His mother told him that compared to many children around the world, Joseph had a fairly easy chores to complete.
Joseph’s father eventually got into the discussion and considered a way to help Joseph better understand the kinds of challenges other children his age face just because of the circumstances present where they live. A decision was made to take their family’s garden watering cans and walk from the family home to a local river, fill the cans up with river water and walk back home with them full. Not an easy task!
The idea was to teach Joseph that millions of children all over the developing world have to walk very long distances to get their water each day. The experience would also teach Joseph about the value of water as a natural resource.
A few months later Joseph did a project in his grade 5/6 class on a topic of his choice that had to centre around a Canadian issue that the world is addressing.
Joseph chose the topic “Tap Water vs Bottled Water” and he argued that we should not be relying on purchased bottled water as so many Canadians and other people in first world countries currently do. His presentation, which included a slide show, was so convincing that many people in his audience stopped purchasing bottled water.
At the end of the presentation Joseph challenged his classmates to do something that would help raise awareness about the value of our water resource. He asked them to arrange a walkathon to not only raise awareness, but to possibly raise money to build a well in a community that needs clean water.
His classmates and teacher were very supportive and excited to help.
Joseph’s parents then began to search out an organization that could help them build a well for a community in a country of need. They eventually found the organization called Chalice (a Catholic sponsorship program for children and the elderly in need). Chalice had the experience of building wells in communities that they serve in their capacity as a charity.
Joseph’s family eventually learned that Chalice was in the final stages of raising money for wells to be built in 2 communities in Kenya, and that they were at the starting point of raising money to build a well in a third community, also in Kenya.
This third community included an isolated and remote elementary school that is only accessible via rough and difficult roads. The school educates approximately 450 students and serves a community of about 850 people. The poverty level there is high and education is in great need.
Students rely on the school for water and food. Earlier this year in March, the food at the school, supplied through relief organizations, had depleted. The mothers of the children attending that school must walk 10 km to get water and 10 km back home each day. They start off early in the morning and get home in the evening.
Finding a Reliable and Clean Source of Water
The initial test drill that was done on the school site to search for water confirmed that the water there was contaminated and undrinkable.
Further tests were done at a distance away from the school and good water was found. The challenge, however, was in getting equipment to the site and completing the work to get the water out as it is located quite a distance down into the ground.
Chalice has engineers at the site that have determined that it is going to cost $80,000 to build the well there.
Joseph’s family went ahead to plan and organize a walkathon and other fundraising activities. In order to spread the word about raising funds to build a well, Joseph has presented his slide show and/or speeches to:
- his class and teacher
- his teacher and principal
- the Catholic School Council at his school
- the Board of Trustees and the Director of Education at the Wellington Catholic District School Board
- the pastor and parishioners at each Mass held at Holy Rosary Parish in Guelph, and
- plans are under way to present at other parishes in the Guelph area.
How YOU can support this effort: Joseph would like all interested in helping this vital cause to do so by visiting the Chalice website (www.chalice.ca) and donating to the Walking Together for Water initiative. Tax receipts will be mailed to donors for a donation of $5.00 or more. Chalice has committed to directing 100% of the money raised to the building of this well.