Learning to care and act: responding to the global water crisis

Students skype with Bishwa Bhandari in Tina Harbold’s grade 8 Reflective Spiritual Beings class.

Students skype with Bishwa Bhandari in Tina Harbold’s grade 8 Reflective Spiritual Beings class.

By Andrew Y., Grade 8 student

Nepal and Uganda. 6,256 kilometers. Two separate continents. Similar situations.

Bishwa Karmacharya from Nepal and Yoweri Museveni from Uganda. In Nepal only 27 per cent of the population has access to clean water, one of the lowest percentages in the world. In Uganda only 39% of people can access clean water. In both countries, the government monopolizes the water and, without bribing governmental officials, citizens may not have access to clean drinking water for their entire lives.

Similar to the situation in South Sudan, and the experiences of author and activist Salva Dut (who visited Concordia in October 2018), many Ugandan people have to carry yellow containers (jerry cans) and walk for up to 10 kilometers to reach to the nearest pond or water source. In Bishwa’s world, the lack of long-term trash disposal has polluted rivers, lakes and ponds so that many water sources are toxic and even fatal.

In our Reflective Spiritual Beings (RSB) class, we skyped with Bishwa and learned about his project of creating ceramic filters to clean water and make it safe for human consumption. Because of Bishwa’s invention, people in his village (Dukucha) do not suffer from endless walking for water anymore.

For many of us, as young people, it is our dream to eliminate not only poverty, but also to assist people with health and well-being. No one should be deprived of their right to live because of lack of access to clean water. The responsibility of rescuing and rehabilitating our planet should therefore come to us, the new generation; as we innovate and enjoy every bliss that we create for our world, we are squandering and wasting our natural resources, eliminating many other species and polluting our entire planet.

After learning about all of these issues with water, our RSB class decided to organize a movie night for students and parents to raise awareness about water conservation and to help meet some needs. We raised almost 6000 RMB, enough to provide clean water for 29 families. We also put together a pledge sheet and asked all participants to make a pledge related to water conservation (image below). We feel this is so important that we’re also asking all middle school teachers to make a pledge, too.

The pledge sheet we made and shared with movie night participants, as well as all of the middle school staff.

The pledge sheet we made and shared with movie night participants, as well as all of the middle school staff.

I first wondered if the movie night would be successful and I was really happy with how the night turned out. I am also really committed to the global water crisis and want to spend more time and effort to bring clean water to more people in the world. This ties into human rights and freedom, and I am left with a lot of ideas and thoughts because of what we’ve done in our class.

Start small, think big. I will remain positive and hope to accomplish more in the future.

Students get ready for a movie night as a summative activity for and RSB unit featuring the five stages of service learning and SDG #6 (Clean Water & Sanitation).

Students get ready for a movie night as a summative activity for and RSB unit featuring the five stages of service learning and SDG #6 (Clean Water & Sanitation).

LeeAnne Lavender