At Lebanon High School, the Thirst Project has met their goal of $12,000 raised by students in order to build a water well for those who cannot obtain clean water in Swaziland. This is the fifth well in total that has been built courtesy of the students and staff at LHS, the first being in 2013. The first four wells have been in Uganda, but this time students aimed for a higher goal when they decided to build a more expensive well for Swaziland.
In total, Lebanon High School has been able to donate approximately $44,000 to help with the water crisis.
Principal Kevin O’Rourke marveled at the potential that the students had to make a difference in the world, and noted the project’s importance to not only those in Swaziland and Uganda, but to young students as well.
“The Thirst Project is something that helps our students learn quickly that they can make a global difference. A lot of times, people growing up think that the world is so big, they do not know how they can make a difference. As a school and as individual students we are making a difference for hundreds of people in Swaziland and Uganda that without our help—because of the mortality rates—would probably not live. We have kids that are saving lives,” said O’Rourke.
Anne Pfaff, a student at Indiana University, has travelled around the United States giving presentations to various middle schools, high schools, and colleges in order to raise awareness for the global water crisis.
“I want to end the water crisis because at the moment, 663 million people do not have access to clean water. We are ending the global water crisis, and it is also a form of youth activism that means getting young people to realize that we can make a difference and we can change the world. Only 50 cents gives somebody clean water for a year, and $12,000 gives a whole village clean water for the rest of their lives,” Pfaff said.
LHS graduate Madison Smith began her involvement in the Thirst Project her junior year and became the President/Representative of the student-led group at LHS. She had a part in thinking of new ways to raise money for the cause and finding new ways to inspire people to donate.
“If you think about just going into your kitchen and flipping on a faucet, you do not think about it. For people in these communities that do not have fresh water, that means walking up to eight hours a day, filling a jerry can that weighs roughly 44 pounds after it is filled, and walking back. Women, children, anybody who is able to collect water have to do this every day, because they need water to eat, bathe, and drink. Keep in mind that the water is disease-ridden, and it has mud, feces, and everything. Being able to say that I am a part of changing that and making the communities that have these terrible water conditions better, it is outstanding,” Smith said.
Smith even plans to start a Thirst Project organization at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis, where she attends school.
Those that advocate for the Thirst Project believe that in order to create a thriving community, they must take part in healing other communities and helping them to thrive, as well.
“In our world and in our communities we need to be serving leaders; we need to give back. This is a great way to learn about service on a grand and global scale,” said O’Rourke.