St George’s Pupils Fight Water Poverty!

This morning pupils at St George’s Catholic Voluntary Aided College in Southampton showed their solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the world by writing to David Cameron and asking him to call on world leaders to end water poverty.

St George’s is a fantastic supporter of CAFOD’s work, raising over £700 recently for CAFOD’s Lenten appeal through a non-uniform day and a teachers’ sponsored water carrying exercise around the school. Brilliant!

Today CAFOD Education Volunteers from the University of Southampton Catholic Society (Davide, Aljay and Calleb) talked to pupils in lessons about the 884 million people around our world who do not have access to clean water and the impact that has on their lives.

Pupils tried lifting 10 litres of water – the average amount of water used by people some of the world’s poorest countries – and imagined what it would be like to carry this amount for a long period of time (around 6 hours for some families).

They also thought about what people are not able to do if they are carrying water for such long periods of time and the effect that would have on their health, education, and home life; how a lack of access to clean water could affect someone’s chance to study and go to college, in fact their entire future.

Pupils then took part in a short relay race, seeing just how much water they could carry over a distance in a short amount of time.  They then compared the amount collected to the amount needed to take a shower (60 litres), have a bath (150 litres) and even wash their face and hands each day (30 litres).  Each flush of the toilet uses 10 litres of water – the entire amount that some people use for all their cooking, washing, drinking and cleaning each day.  The average amount a person uses each day in Europe is 200 litres.

Davide then asked the class to imagine how they would feel if, after travelling a long way to fetch water, the water itself was dirty.  Volunteers were asked to ‘make’ some dirty water and think about the effects of drinking water that could contain animal and human waste.

During the lesson, pupils had learned about Rosena and Angel’s experience of water poverty in their rural village in Zambia.  However, CAFOD’s partner had now drilled a borehole in their village which pumps clean water underground.  The boreholes saves the family an enormous amount of time and energy and it prevents the spread of disease.  The class also saw the rainwater tank that helps harvest rainwater – which again make a huge difference to Rosena and Angel’s family.

As Calleb then said, ‘This is a global crisis and needs a global solution.  CAFOD cannot be in every village.  We need our world leaders to act now and tackle the real reasons why people lack clean water and safe sanitation.’

Pupils were then invited to take part in CAFOD’s Thirst for Change campaign, which is urging David Cameron to make sure the world’s richest countries, the G8, take action when they meet this month in Chicago.

Here are just some of the pupils’ terrific messages to our Prime Minister:

“I just want to say that you are representing this country. You should take action!  Show the world that we are kind and caring.  I know I am only a boy but please!!’

“It is disgusting that people have to drink dirty water every day and die from disease. It’s not right. Everyone has the right to drink clean water.”

“..there’s no difference between us and them except they don’t have water”

“Help poorer countries get clean water because one child dies every 20 seconds from diseases caused by dirty water and if that was happening in Britain you would obviously put a stop to it.”

“…every 20 seconds a child dies from diseases caused by dirty water… that’s 180 children every lesson we have.”

“..this needs to be stopped with help from you and all the other Prime Ministers and Presidents..”

“..I’m depending on you to do something about it…”

Our thanks go to all the fantastic staff for helping us today, (especially Mr Walford for organising this)  the brilliant Year 7 and 8 classes we worked with and our newest Education Volunteers – Calleb, Aljay and Davide.  Thank you all so much for all your support! We’ll let you know David Cameron’s response!

For more information on the Thirst for Change campaign – please go to

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