At Maji Safi Group, we were so inspired by the students at Monarch K-8 School in Louisville, Colorado, who walked on World Water Day to call attention to those without safe water! Kindergarten students, paired with fifth graders, wore lots of blue and carried one-gallon water containers to shine the light on the world water crisis and those who walk long distances each day for water.
How can other schools do the same? Here’s a bit about Monarch’s success.
For months leading up to World Water Day, kindergarten teacher Alison Adams sparks her students’ awareness and empathy. She teaches them about children just a bit older than them, who need to walk miles each day to fetch heavy containers of water for their families. But what if that water is very contaminated and makes the children ill?
“It’s hard for the students to imagine not being able to grab a water bottle or simply walk over to the fountain or sink. The beauty of 5-year-old children is their curiosity, innocence and untainted belief that they can do anything,” Adams said.
“Our students ask why other children can’t have medicine to get better. They say things like, ‘They can have my water bottle,’ or ‘Let’s buy them bottles of clean water’ and ‘I will help them carry it!’ They genuinely mean it.
At the beginning of their year, Monarch students learn what it was like 100 years ago in a classic one-room schoolhouse with no electricity, water, computers, etc. In a make-believe play center, students have desks with chalkboards, chalk, wooden chalk boxes, a metal bucket with a cloth napkin for their snack, a pretend wood stove, and a wooden bucket and ladle for water. “We talk about not having running water in your home, so they immediately connect to going to the stream or lake. Then we talk about, ‘But what if you had to walk for hours?’”
The Monarch students watch videos with children in other countries who walk with no shoes in the mud or on dirt roads with large buckets and containers. They read books like I Walk for Water and The Water Princess. “Through both mediums, our students hear the words of children who want to go to school, bathe in a clean tub, go to a party, or do other things our kids do so often without noticing.”
Adams then talks about organizations that can help and how students can get involved, including by doing a water walk. This year, Monarch students raised $850 for Maji Safi Group, thanks to Adams’ leadership – enough to buy 28 water filters to provide program participants with clean drinking water!
How did Adams’ own awareness of the global water crisis begin? “From a combination of church and concert experiences. Our family also now sponsors five children in Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Haiti and Brazil. We learned more about the struggles of our children’s families and their communities. Also, by working with several church organizations and youth groups, I was introduced to the work of Compassion International, Blood:Water, and World Vision.”
And now Adams passes her global awareness on. “This is why I teach kindergarten. This is the most important reason I teach. These students are the future, and they will not only continue to ask the questions, they’ll be the ones to find the answers.”