LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – A group of 5th graders at Hudson PEP Elementary School in Longview raised $10,000 to provide clean water to a Ugandan community.
The idea started with the book “A Long Walk to Water”, which sparked the idea. 5th grade English and language arts teacher Regina Ward said that this was a way to expose students to a world outside of their own.
“We started the school year by reading the book out loud in class, and as we were reading, they were shocked,” Ward said. “They had no idea that this was a situation, that children could not go to school because they spent their entire day just going to get water and bringing it back for their family. They were even more shocked to discover that the water they were bringing back was polluted.”
Ward said that her class was shocked to learn that some do not have any access to clean water.
“Our teacher gave us the idea, and we were really motivated to go on because we wanted to help people,” 5th grader Cohen Hardison said. “This is a true story, so we know this is actually happening. With all the suffering, we wanted to at least help a little bit so they’re not completely suffering.”
Guided by Longview-based organization We Help Two, the class sold socks and soaps to raise money. At first, they came up a little too short to be able to do the original project they wanted.
“At first we were a little short on the We Help Two fundraiser, so at first we thought, ‘well, we’ll just do part of a well,'” Ward said. “But the student’s weren’t having that. They couldn’t do ‘part’, they wanted to do everything.”
The class started a “penny war” to raise the rest of the funds. In a penny war, coins represent soldiers and paper money represents bombs. If someone’s coins get bombed, they have to deduct that much out of their collection.
After this, Ward said she was carrying “suitcases full of coins and money to the bank everyday.”
Once the well was built, the people in from a community in central Uganda sent a video showing them using the well and thanking Hudson PEP and We Help Two for the water. The well is located at Shammah High School in Uganda, and the community around it has a population of about 500,000 people.
5th grader Mia Bustamante said that her favorite part was seeing how they could help people all the way from a different continent.
“Being able to see smiles on the people’s faces in Uganda in Africa and having all this clean water they didn’t have before,” Bustamante said.
“We were all overjoyed to see our project fully completed and them thanking us for our work. It was amazing,” Hardison said.
We Help Two is based in Longview, but they partner with schools across the country for service learning projects like this one.
“They tied the curriculum to the service project, which makes it more powerful,” said Trevor Bergman, CEO of We Help Two said. “If you learn about something and aren’t able to act upon it, what’s the point of learning it? They turned their learning into action, and that action changed people’s lives.”
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