H20verload: Students drink water to save lives

Students on 50 college campuses nationwide participated in Drink Water to Give Water, a ten-day challenge that ended Oct. 19. The program was organized by Living Water International, an organization that builds water wells to provide clean, sustainable drinking water in developing countries.

Thousands of students across the country committed to drinking only water for ten days in an effort to raise $100,000 to provide ten wells in Rwanda. The money they would have spent on other beverages, such as coffee and alcohol, were donated to Living Water International through an online payment process. John Gage, senior in Engineering, said he involved the University in Drink Water to Give Water this year for the first time.

“It is an incredible experience providing clean water to people who don’t have it,” he said.

He wanted to find a way for everyone to contribute to changing people’s lives because it is difficult to comprehend the idea of how large the water crisis is.

About 750 information cards were distributed across campus and more than 600 wristbands were given to participants in the program. They also spread awareness about the water crisis by word of mouth.

The goal for University students was to raise $5,000 to go toward building one water well in Rwanda. Gage said they anticipate meeting their goal because so many students on campus expressed interest in the program. Final results are expected within the next week.

“Drinking water is forcing me to think on almost an hourly basis about people who don’t have it,” said Richael Young, senior in Engineering.

She added that clean drinking water is a basic human right that everyone should have access to.

According to the non-profit organization Water.org, 884 million people worldwide don’t have access to safe water. The lack of clean water spreads preventable diseases that contribute to high mortality rates.

In developing countries, women and children walk miles every day in search of clean drinking water, sometimes never finding it, Gage said. This takes children out of school and burdens women because the search prevents them from getting an education or from holding jobs.

Awareness is really important, as well as realizing that every little bit of aid helps, said Sarah Dexter, junior in LAS.

“It is so simple and we will see the direct impact,” she said.

“Wells will be built and lives will be saved.”

Even the smallest donation to Living Water International can change lives by making a big difference in a small way. For every dollar donated, one person is provided with clean drinking water for a year.

“It feels good to be a part of a commitment, a movement that will help people all over the world,” Young said.