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Yellowquill promotes water security

By Svjetlana Mlinarevic, The Graphic

It seems appropriate that last week Yellowquill School experienced a water main break and a few days of rain given that it was the same week they were trying to bring water security awareness to the community. 

We learned when we went to an MCIC conference in January that across the world people aren’t as lucky as we are to have water all the time. To go and just turn on a tap, they have to walk miles just to go get water and it could be contaminated. It just shows how much we have and how we should be thankful for it,” said Logan Rands, 13.

The school’s Water Week, which ran from May 11 to 15, came about after students heard from African teacher Strini Reddy and his friend Dr. Mantanga about building a well in their native village of Chirasauta, Zimbabwe. The two have already completed phase one of the building project and are now moving on to phase two in order to complete the well and build a holding tank and irrigation system to supply water to the community.

In order to educate students, the social justice committee along with the school’s teachers created activities to teach all grade levels about water security by having them make posters to giving presentations to handing out fliers in the community. The school did some fundraising by selling cotton candy and blue donuts. Portage Rotary bought 50 blue donuts for a dollar a piece. They also held a simulation walk on Friday where all the grades had to carry milk jugs filled with water around a track to learn how it feels to gather water. 

Some countries don’t have water like we do, they can’t just turn on the tap. They have to walk close to eight kilometres a day, women and children, just to go get water. We’re doing an activity where you go and get water with your cup and you have to pay every time you get water. When you’re done getting your water, it can be contaminated and if it is you have to pay for the water otherwise it could get your family sick,” said Mayson Webber, 14.

Webber’s remarks highlight that it’s mostly women and girls who are collecting water in developing nations while boys usually go to school, a practice that is not lost on 14-year-old Juliette Tower.

We take school for granted. Most of us kids don’t want to go to school and a lot of these girls in Africa really, really want to go to school and they don’t get that opportunity because of all the walking they have to do with water,” she said. “When we were in Grade 1 and 2 we learned to read and write and there’s girls my age that don’t know how to read and write yet. It’s just very mind blowing that they can’t read and write like we can. They don’t have the same opportunities.”

The water main break and rainy weather during the week brought the issue of water security home for a lot of kids.

That was very ironic. Of course to the kids it was great because it was a day off, but we also talked about the fact that as soon as those water fountains were turned off and you could no longer get a drink of water, suddenly everyone gets so thirsty,” said social justice teacher Naomi Harley. “We talked about the fact that it would not be an easy day to be here and how many things we take for granted. You can’t flush a toilet when you don’t have water... We didn’t suffer very long and they weren’t in school because of it, but it kind of brings it a little closer to reality of what it could actually be like.

It seems the message is working. Ryan Martens, 13, who didn’t attend the conference but wanted to participate in the activities said people don’t need to make major life changes to in order to conserve water.

This has greatly changed the way I think about water. Some of us leave the sink on when we brush our teeth and that’s just wasting water so I always turn the tap off,” he said.

Twitter: @PDGSvjetlana

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