By Sara Plaza |

In Park Ridge (Illinois), George B. Carpenter Elementary School is making a life changing difference for hundreds of people in a remote area of Africa. They created a fundraiser called a Read-A-Thon in order to raise enough money for a well in Ethiopia. The community came together and raised so much money that they are able to provide two wells to two different villages as well as latrines and sanitation stations.

Many people all over the world are facing a serious crisis. Some are starved, some have an extremely poor economy, and worst of all, no access to clean water. This is the case for rural Ethiopia. Every day, women and girls have to walk for hours to get water. Many times, the water is not even sanitary. It is crawling with bacteria, which can lead to disease. The big problem is that many people have no other choice but to drink this water, and outbreaks of infectious disease can occur. To make matters worse, Ethiopia is going through an extremely severe drought. Many are reporting it to be worse than the one in 1985. This drought has had devastating effects. People and livestock are dying, and crops are not growing. Therefore, wells are needed more than ever.

Rebecca Keenan, a fifth-grade teacher at Carpenter, visited Ethiopia in the summer of 2015. She traveled with her brother, Dr. Jeremy Keenan, who is an ocular infectious disease specialist based out of UCSF (University of California, San Francisco). He is the lead researcher of a trachoma study in Ethiopia. Trachoma is an infectious eye disease, and if a person gets it multiple times, they can go blind. It could easily be prevented if people had enough access to water to clean themselves. When Rebecca Keenan traveled to Ethiopia, she saw how dire the situation was there. When she came back to Carpenter, she and her fifth grade class organized a school-wide Read-a-Thon fundraiser in hopes of raising money for a well. The fifth grade students created a promotional video informing people about the situation in Ethiopia and all students learned about the importance of clean water.

The purpose of this fundraiser was to buy a well for a village in Ethiopia. The goal was to raise $15,000. This is enough to buy a well that goes into the water table, and will supply clean water for a lifetime. The profits of the Read-A-Thon went to the charity That Man May See, which is a non-profit organization that is run through the Proctor Foundation at the University of California in San Francisco. They specialize in funding research to both restore and save eyesight of people around the world.

Carpenter School surpassed their goal and ended up raising $23,138. This is enough money for a deep well, a hand-dug well, latrines, jerry cans and sanitation stations. Sanitation stations are containers that hold water and can be placed in each home. These make it easier for people to wash their hands and faces, which will weaken the spread of bacteria. It is remarkable how generous the Carpenter community has been. Through their contributions, two villages in Ethiopia now have access to clean water.

Providing clean water for a community is life changing. Girls can going to school because they won’t be spending their day walking miles to get to clean water. People will have water for cleaning, and not just for the crucial purposes of cooking and drinking. This will help stop the spread of infectious diseases such as trachoma because people will be able to clean themselves. More children will live past the age of 5 because they won’t be drinking contaminated water. Diarrhea-related diseases are the leading cause of death of children under the age of 5 in Africa. Lastly, water will help people grow crops and they will have enough water for their livestock. Ethiopia is a country that needs help, and Carpenter has made a lifesaving difference in two villages.

Source: Daily Herald
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