Minnetonka Middle School East held its 4th Annual Walk/Run for Clean Water in Haiti on a cold, damp Friday, May 9. But the 410 sixth graders were red hot in their fundraising activities and enthusiasm on that day and before. They raised a record $17, 345 for clean, community managed water wells in Haiti!
Each year, part of the 6th grade curriculum includes a unit on Global Awareness, with a focus on water, led by teachers Rebeccah MacDougal and Laura Frisbie. They talk about how people in many parts of the world do not have ready access to potable water and what they do, since water is necessary for life. They study such topics as the availability of fresh water, typical usage by Americans versus people in other countries, how women and children are usually the water bearers in most of the world, and do research on different countries stricken by a water crisis, such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Honduras and Kenya.
However, they do much more than study world water issues – they go into action and make a difference by raising money for community managed clean water wells in Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere. Haiti Outreach has worked for 17 years creating sustainable potable water solutions for people in rural Haiti, whose only source of water are streams or water holes, usually contaminated and a mile or two from most communities. Using the Haiti Outreach Adopt-a-Well program, the class raised money for the community of Vensans, which has about 400 people who travel 1 ½ miles daily to get water from a water hole and spring that feeds into an existing stream.
To raise money for the wells, on May 9th, the 6th graders held a walk/run around the school property, about a mile, and took pledges from family and friends for how many laps they would do. One boy set the record of 15 laps – nearly 15 miles – that he ran!
In addition, they set up booths outside where they sell many different items to one another, to the 7th and 8th graders, and to teachers and parents. They make and sell jewelry, many various food items and drinks, removable tattoos and face paint, and hold games for which you have to pay to participate. The booth that raised the most money on this cold day was snow cones, which made $450! Other activities included having students carry 1 one gallon of water for a mile and a student band that played during the festival.
Haiti Outreach Executive Director Dale Snyder spoke to the entire 6th grade about the lack of clean water in Haiti, what Haiti Outreach is doing about it, and the community of Vensans which will get a new well because of their activities. In addition, 15 guest speakers talked to classrooms of 6th graders about their personal experience in various countries around the world regarding the issues of water and sanitation.
Teacher Rebeccah MacDougal summed up the festive day and everything the students did very well. “We are so proud these kids. They worked very hard and produced amazing results,” she said. We could not agree more and are so very grateful to the school and these students who brought clean water to a rural community in Haiti that will literally save lives every day! Congratulations to everyone who participated! If you would like more information on how your school, church or civic group could set up a Haiti Water Hike and festival like this, please contact us at 612-929-1122 or email Haiti Outreach at [email protected].