CHATHAM – When Monomoy Regional Middle School students want a drink of water, they visit the nearest hallway fountain or turn on the tap. When students in Kenya want a drink of water, they have to walk, sometimes many miles. To help ease their situation, MRMS students are raising funds through their first Walk to Water event with the goal of creating a water station near a school in Kenya.
According to MRMS librarian Cherian Armstrong, students known as Super Sharks – those participating in leadership clubs – brainstormed a variety of difference community service project ideas. Inspired by the book “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, in which a Sudanese girl must walk two hours twice a day for water, students initially decided to have a well dug.
In November, students held a Skype call with Tess Crick of the Water Project in New Hampshire, who discussed the pros and cons of building wells, then explained the many benefits of a water station where water is collected for people's use.
“Students learned that in areas of Africa, like Kenya, where rainfall is not an issue, water collection stations can address the needs of a community,” Armstrong said. “The advantage to them, as opposed to wells, is that upkeep and repairs are minimal.”
The stations are also traditionally built at schools where they also allow the creation of hand-washing stations and bathroom facilities, which helps reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
Monomoy Middle School students will gain an understanding of how taxing it can be to fetch water from long distances on June 5, when they will carry one-gallon jugs previously filled with water from Oyster Pond from the school to the pond where the jugs will be emptied. The jugs will then be recycled at the Chatham Transfer Station. Each student has been asked to try and get at least $50 in pledges, which will benefit the water station project.
“We are in the second year of combining leadership groups to address major issues,” Armstrong said. “Recently, the Super Sharks created a three-year cycle for service. In year one, they will address projects that benefit our school directly. In year two, they will undertake projects that benefit our country, and in year three, we hope to make a difference in the world. Although this is a three-year cycle, the projects, undertaken this year alone meet the needs of school, community, and global service.”
Armstrong said the projects have included collecting items for area food pantries, as well as the school's own pantry, known as the Monomoy Market, “share-a-snack” containers in the school cafeteria for students needing snacks, the Empty Bowls, Full Hearts fundraiser to benefit area families in need and provide bagged lunches for the St. Joseph's Homeless Shelter in Hyannis, a sock collection for Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops, and the gathering of supplies to benefit local animal shelters, among others.
“Our goal as educators is to guide our students in developing their own ideas, opinions, and choices as to how each of them contributes to society,” Armstrong said. “We are very proud that we have so many students with a strong sense of citizenship, civics, and community service.”
Jug donations are welcome at MRMS, as are pledges toward the project. For more information email Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.