Kids take action to help Ugandans return home

By August 19, 2008

USA (MNN) — Most middle school-aged kids don't know much about the war in Uganda. They aren't aware that children their age are dying without clean water, or that ministries like Living Water International can save lives.

But one class in San Antonio, Texas, understands the dangers of contaminated water, thanks to teacher Kelly Riggs. Her classroom is covered in photos of her trips to Uganda, Ethiopia and Guatemala. Her students know the stories of the child soldiers in Uganda, the people in Guatemala who work for pennies picking the coffee we drink, and the Ethiopians living every day on the edge of death. 

What moved them into action was learning the desperate need for clean water in Uganda.  They learned that many children and their families are still living in refugee camps where internationals have provided wells with clean drinking water. Families must choose between returning to their home village where their kids drink from muddy water holes and staying in camps where life-saving clean water is available. The water often wins out. 

For Ugandan families, going home increases the likelihood of their child becoming a statistic: every 15 seconds a child dies of diarrhea. If their child survives, the recovery time may add to the 7 million days of school missed in Africa because of water-borne diseases. This year, forty billion hours will be spent mostly by women and children carrying clean water to their homes.

So the Junior Optimist Club at Jackson Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, carried water, too.  They sold tickets for a "Water Walk" where kids volunteered to carry 5-gallon "jerry cans" of water, weighing 40 pounds, around the school track. They sold t-shirts and bracelets, and before long they had $15,000 — enough to drill a well in a Ugandan village.

Through Living Water International, the well was drilled and completed. Living Water's wells are simple, low-maintenance hand pumps that do the big job of making villages liveable again.  Mothers no longer have to worry what's in the water their children are drinking. 

This summer, Riggs was able to visit the very project her students helped fund. She saw the beginning of the abundant life that Jesus promised in that village. She is excited for school to start so she can share her experience with her students. 

Living Water drills wells in 26 countries and is committed to developing people both physically and spiritually. As Jesus did, they serve those in the most need without regard to race, religion or background.

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