Water for life

Marys­town stu­dents take part in water walk

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - BY COLIN FARRELL Colin.farrell@south­erngazette.ca

In an ef­fort to raise aware­ness about the strug­gles faced by women in Kenya just to pro­vide water for the homes, Marys­town Cen­tral High School teacher Jackie Peach or­ga­nized a water walk.

The event, held May 10, had stu­dents in the Help­ing Hands group, as well as teachers and par­ents walk from the school to a nearby pond and fill up con­tain­ers with water and walk them back to the school.

Peach said the event aimed to sim­u­late what the women and young women go through to get some­thing that for peo­ple in the de­vel­oped world is as easy as turn­ing on a facet.

“We have done a cou­ple of trips tak­ing stu­dents to Kenya and Tan­za­nia over the past few years and we saw first-hand the mom­mas do­ing the walk,” she ex­plained. “We car­ried the water and walked where they walked and it’s an eye-open­ing experience.”

Peach, who is the teacher fa­cil­i­ta­tor for the help­ing hands group, said they have been work­ing to­gether af­ter school on a num­ber of projects, and when the op­por­tu­nity came up to take part in the water walk, she had their full sup­port.

“We had de­cided early on in the year that we were go­ing to host a water well in a com­mu­nity in Kenya,” she ex­plained. “It costs about $5,000, so we’ve been do­ing lit­tle fundrais­ers through the year.”

The group has col­lect ap­prox­i­mately $1,500 dol­lar and she hopes that when school re­sumes in Septem­ber they can con­tinue to build on that amount.

Peach said that the dis­tance trav­elled by the women of the com­mu­ni­ties can vary, de­pend­ing on the near­est source of water, “some women might walk 5 min­utes and some ladies could walk an hour to (the water source) and back, and they do that three or four times a day.”

She said that the role of col­lect­ing water is viewed as women’s work, and when young girls turn a cer­tain age they must join in to help.

“The girls can’t go to school be­cause they have to bring water, so by putting a water well in a com­mu­nity next to a school that al­lows the girls to go to school and lunch times they’ll bring home water- af­ter school they can bring home water.”

Peach said that as the stu­dents were fill­ing up their con­tain­ers from the pond, some com­mented on the colour of the water, call­ing it gross.

“What you have over there is even worse,” she ex­plained. Peach added that dur­ing one visit she made to Kenya dur­ing the water walk, an­i­mals could be seen defe­cat­ing in the water as the women were fill­ing their con­tain­ers.

She re­marked that af­ter re­turn­ing from her first trip to the re­gion, she felt guilty, “be­cause we have it so easy, you just turn on your tap,” she said.

“I spoke about it be­fore we left Kenya with one of the su­per­vi­sors and her com­ment to me was, ‘We can’t help where we’re born, and they can’t help where they’re born, but every­body can do some­thing to im­prove their sit­u­a­tion and im­prove sit­u­a­tions around the world.”

Some­thing to think about

Sa­man­tha Allen, a level III stu­dent at MCHS, felt the event was a good way to raise com­mu­nity aware­ness about what hap­pens in places like Kenya.

“This is only a small tid­bit of what they go through every day,” she said. “This just kind of gives you a lit­tle bit of in­sight to what they’re do­ing.”

She said that by tak­ing part and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what it was like just walk­ing a short dis­tance with the water, “(we) don’t have to walk for any­thing around here and then even just af­ter that lit­tle bit your (tempted) to give up.”

Allen said it made her ap­pre­ci­ate the con­ve­niences of her own life.

“You take a half hour shower, you use it with­out even think­ing,” she said.

“You don’t re­al­ize how much water you need to use in a day.”

Level II stu­dent Ash­ley May said she did it to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what it is women in Kenya go through.

“I just think it is amaz­ing that they can walk so far.”

May ex­plained that she car­ried the bucket in the style that women from Kenya would, by at­tach­ing a rope to the bucket and ty­ing it to her head, as a means to help take the weight off her arms.

Sarah Hodder, who also took part in the walk, said she felt it was a good way to raise aware­ness.

The pair were joined in walk by Me­lanie Lun­dri­gan, who also made t-shirts for the event to help let peo­ple know what cause they were sup­port­ing.

“When you see a bunch of peo­ple walk­ing down the road, (passerby’s) usu­ally don’t know what it is for,” she ex­plained. “But we’ve got all the signs, and I fig­ured the tshirts were an­other way to show what we’re walk­ing for.”

COLIN FARRELL/THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Ash­ley May, (left) Sarah Hodder and Me­lanie Lun­dri­gan all said that they took part in the walk as a way to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what women go through, and as well to help fundraise for a water well for a com­mu­nity in Kenya.

COLIN FARRELL/THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Glo­ria Dawe makes her way back to the school with a con­tainer of water that she col­lected from Janes Pond in Marys­town as part of the water walk.

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