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Lyman Hall students aim to help build wells for families in Africa
Project is a learning opportunity about other parts of the world
Lyman Hall Elementary teacher Megan Chambers holds a bottle of untreated water from Lake Lanier, a visual aid to help students understand the need for clean drinking water. - photo by Michelle Boaen Jameson

 The Water Project

Anyone can help the students reach their goal by donating to the project online. To designate a donation to the students' project, type "Giving Hope for Life" under the group name tab. This will allow the students to track the progress and actually see the construction of the well happen live online.

Most elementary students don’t have to think about where they’ll get water to drink; it’s down the hall and comes out of the fountain.

They almost certainly wouldn’t consider where students in other countries get their drinking water.

But when the fourth-grade students in Megan Chambers’ class at Lyman Hall Elementary School heard about the lack of clean drinking water for students in Africa, they immediately wanted to help.

"They had no concept of why the kids couldn’t walk to the store to get water or why they couldn’t text them to see how they’re doing or email them," Chambers said. "It was hard for them to fathom. It really opened their eyes to how other students live."

The class decided to get involved with a program called The Water Project. The project gives people an opportunity to help raise money to fund the building of a well at an African school.

Chambers showed the students a video from the project’s website, The video explained how some children, mostly girls, have to walk miles away from their homes every morning to get the family’s water for the day. The water source isn’t always clean and many people get sick.

The students also gathered water from Lake Lanier into water bottles to get a better idea of what might floating around in untreated water.

The bottles of yellowish water with bits of debris settled at the bottom sit on the students’ desk as a constant reminder.

Jenny Davila Carrillo, a fourth-grade student, said she was concerned about the children and their families getting sick because of something like water.

"If they get sick, then they can’t work," Jenny said. "They get sick from not having clean water because it has worms and bacteria and all those kinds of things that can get into their body and make them die."

Chambers said the students had a lot of questions. After learning more about the problem, they had a genuine eagerness to help provide a solution.

"That same day, they were trying to give me money out of their pockets because they wanted to help," Chambers said. "That was really neat to see. Their eyes opened to another culture."

The class decided to name their project "Giving Hope for Life."

"We’re trying to make at least $1,000 so we can make a well and get kids some clean water because kids in Africa don’t have clean water, and lots of them are dying," fourth-grader Johan Vargas said.

The cost of a well varies by country but can cost as much as $15,000 according to the project’s website. Funds from different projects are grouped together.

The class’ first step is to educate the other students at their school. They are currently making books about the importance of clean drinking water, which they’ll read to the younger students at school.

The class is making posters to hang around the school to let the other children know how they can help. They’ll also sell the other students water bottles for $2.

And in February, they’ll give up buying sodas and sports drinks and put the money they would have spent toward the project.

Depending on their personal talents and strengths, the children are coming up with creative ways to spread the word around the school. Some students are making videos for the morning announcements. Jenny decided to write a song.

"It’s about the people in Africa who are suffering because they don’t have clean water," Jenny said. "I’m going to sing it in front of the whole school."

But the student’s aren’t stopping with their peers. They’re also seeking donations from local businesses. The students will be writing a letter of persuasion to business owners seeking donations for their cause.

Chambers said the project is an authentic learning tool for her students. They’ve been able to learn about science, math, reading, writing, technology and world cultures through the project. She said it’s given them an opportunity to see how these subjects work in a real-word situation.

But more than that, it has provided an opportunity for the students to make a difference in the lives of others.

"I feel good doing something for someone that needs help," Johan said as he drew a water bottle on a big green poster to hang in the school.

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