Pupils from Year 7 and 8 from St Peter’s secondary school in Bournemouth sent a clear message to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, asking him to call on world leaders to end water poverty at the G8 summit in May.
Students called on him to ‘take the opportunity to make a big difference’ on the issue, asking for ‘deeds not words’.
Each class looked at average time taken to collect enough water for families in many countries (6 hours) and the impact that would have on people’s dignity, education, health, ability to grow crops and earn a living.
Pupils looked at the amount of water used on average by a person living in one of the world’s poorest countries (10 litres) and tried lifting this amount whilst imagining what it would be like to carry it for prolonged periods of time. We also looked at our own water usage throughout the day– noting that we all use around 9 or 10 litres simply to flush the toilet – once!
We then focussed on the story of 15 year old Angel and 11 year old Rosena from a rural community in Zambia who used to spend up to 3 hours a day collecting water. When the tap wasn’t working in their village, they had no choice but to use river water – which was contaminated because of the animals who shared the water source. However, having no choice, this water is what they used to drink, wash with and bathe in.
CAFOD’s partner has now drilled a borehole in Angel and Rosena’s village, which pumps clean water from underground. The borehole saves the family an enormous amount of time and energy, and it prevents the spread of disease.
But, millions are still without access to clean water and sanitation and although progress has been made – there is still much to do.
A huge global crisis such as this requires a global response and political and financial neglect is at the heart of this problem.
We looked at the fact that doing something now – even in a recession – makes good financial sense. The World Health Organisation has estimated that for every $1 spent on clean water and sanitation, there is a return of between £3-$34 simply by keeping people healthy and in work.
Students were then invited to take part in CAFOD’s Thirst for Change campaign and write a short message to our Prime Minister on the issue. David Cameron will be meeting with the G8 in May and we hope to flood Downing Street with messages asking him to call on world leaders to ensure that clean water and sanitation are at the top of the agenda.
Here are some of the pupils’ messages below:
Dear David Cameron….
“We all live on the same planet so why doesn’t everyone have access to something as simple as clean water?”
“We’re all equal, no one is more of less better than anyone else… Something has to be done NOW.”
“People just like us need water. They are no different from any other people. People like us have to walk up to 6 hours to get water. It is unfair….”
“You can change the lives of 884 million people who need toilets and clean water… Children have to walk for miles for water and it’s still dirty. I am 13 and can’t imagine doing that…”
“You and the G8 have the power to change people’s lives…. As I’ve been writing this message, 3 children will have died – you can make a difference to millions.”
“It is simply unacceptable. It must be changed.”
“How would you like to drink or provide your family with horrible dirty water and risk their lives because you have no choice?”
“No human being should have to give their children dirty water.”
“You’re in a strong position to do something about this! We hope you read this and understand.”
“Use your power!”
“We’re counting on you!”
“Please listen to our pleas to help make a change for the better. Clean water is a right so let’s make sure everyone has it!”
Thank you to Mr Herford, Mrs Mills, Mr Kor and all the teachers and staff who organised the day and made me feel so welcome. A HUGE thank you to all the pupils I met for all your enthusiasm and passion for justice! You are all such an inspiration! Thank you everyone!
For more information on CAFOD’s Thirst for Change campaign and to take action go to http://www.cafod.org.uk/thirst