Water for South Sudan, with Love from Lowell

Social studies teacher Kyle Carhart’s students carried boxes filled with textbooks this fall to simulate what it’s like for their Sudanese counterparts to carry water every day
Social studies teacher Kyle Carhart’s students carried boxes filled with textbooks this fall to simulate what it’s like for their Sudanese counterparts to carry water every day

School children and their families in one South Sudan community will be getting clean water to drink from a newly dug well, and middle school students in Lowell have learned how it feels to meet a long-term goal.

And they’re ready to do it again.

Over three school years, students raised $15,000 by selling baked goods and slime, coin drives, and making appeals to local community groups. The Lowell Rotary kicked off the effort with a $5,000 grant, and an anonymous donor pushed them over their goal after Thanksgiving, months ahead of schedule.

Middle school social studies teacher Tamara Hanson

Social studies teacher Tamara Hanson, with help the first year from fellow teachers Lucinda Ambs, and Kyle Carhart the past two, launched the project. Hanson said the organization they are working with, called Water for South Sudan, has told her the well is expected to be operational by late spring.

Lowell classrooms also have raised money for two schools in the Kono District of Sierra Leone to provide education and break the cycle of poverty.

Students learned of both countries’ needs as part of their study of Africa. They read books such as “A Long Walk to Water,” about two 11-year-olds struggling to survive in Sudan.

Seventh-graders Aubriegh Oswald and Samantha Conrad were part of a class that simulated their African peers’ daily journey to get water for their families, by carrying boxes filled with textbooks outside on a sunny day.

It was only for two minutes or so, “but it felt longer,” Samantha said.

Added Aubriegh: “It really opens your eyes, what we take for granted.”

Hanson said students have told her they want to start raising funds for a well for another village. “If they’re into it and they want to, you betcha,” she said. “We’ll find a way.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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