Did you know 663 million people in the world live without clean water? That's nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide, or twice the population of the United States. The majority live in isolated rural areas and spend hours every day walking to collect water for their family. Not only does walking for water keep kids out of school or take up time that parents could be using to earn money, but the water often carries diseases that can make everyone sick. Access to clean water means education, income and health, especially for women and kids.
The Creation Care Team at First Lutheran Church (FLC) made water the focus of keeping care of the earth in the forefront all year long, with the goal of raising $2500 for a water well for a village somewhere in the world. The well project was kicked off at the annual Earth Day Celebration in April 2016.
The weeklong Celebration included water education with Sunday school students, First Learning Center's preschool students, and a congregational celebration event.
The week before the event, the Creation Care team met with the Sunday School children to make rain sticks, talk about the importance of conserving water, and why we were going to help build a well somewhere in the world. The children also learned how to make the sound of rainstorm using their hands and feet, and led the congregation in the rain sounds during worship. Throughout the week, Creation Care members met each day with First Learning Center Preschool children. The 3-5 year-olds learned about water conservation, enjoyed hands-on water activities, and planted a straw bale garden in First Lutheran’s Certified Outdoor Classroom. Children were invited to take a water jug home and help with the “Change for Change” Project.
Adults were brought up to speed on the well project through a Sunday morning adult forum. They learned a village well may serve as many as 500 people. The well not only provides clean water, it opens the door allow people to work, farm, and go to school. Clean water is one of the most powerful ways to create change in the world. When a community gains access to clean water, everything changes. Women and children don’t spend hours gathering water. Communities are healthier. Together, they build stronger economies and a future filled with hope.
On April 24, 2016 little ones with parents, adults of all ages, and youth abandoned their regular Sunday School class time and came to the Activity Center, which was turned into a water lab for the day! The place was buzzing with conversation ranging from worries about the Ogallala Aquifer to water efficient gardening ideas, from the safe disposal of medications and chemicals to plastics contaminating our oceans. Hands-on activities, including carrying jugs of water around a track set up indoors, had everyone learning about the importance of protecting and conserving water.
The well project was also launched, with a plastic swimming pool serving as our well. The coins tossed in the well and dollar bills in a jug kicked off raising the $2500 needed to build a well through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Good Gifts program. Water jugs were available for families to take home to collect loose change as part of a “Change for Change” campaign.
Fund were also raised for the well project through FLC's Noisy Offering on the 1st Sunday of the month. The Noisy Offering is a way for kids to give, see, feel and hear their offering at work! (Watch and listen to the noise these kids are happy to make with their offering! The Noisy Offering isn't just for kids - note the number of adults passing coins to the children.)
So what happened?
- We learned we are lucky to have easy access to clean water. In other places around the world, people have to spend 6+ hours each day walking to and from their only available water source.
- We learned through hands on projects the importance of caring for God’s creation, treating the earth with respect and conserving our natural resources.
- We kept people talking about the project and about water through newsletter articles, Facebook posts and displays.
- We made our goal! The well is a reality!
- And then – donations kept coming in. We are building a second well!
Sunni Richardson is the Director of Discipleship at First Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. Learning, serving and praying are the primary focus of Sunni's call, and she likes helping others discover their potential and use their talents. She is known for stretching people out of their usual comfortable places so they can experience new life. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of The Groundwater Foundation, its board of directors, or individual members.