Student story: Belleville East students donate money to bring clean water to Africans

Belleville East High SchoolApril 15, 2014 

Belleville East High School students collected more than $3,000 for the Well Wishers Project, which is an organization that collects donations to drill wells in Malawi, Africa.

The project was brought to the school by high school senior Mariah Christ. She was inspired after hearing the story of a young boy named Fred who walked five miles to get water that wasn't even clean.

"Hearing his story made me think about how to help," Christ said.

Even though Christ will graduate in May, she hopes to see the organization continue to raise funds at Belleville East.

"It's just a way for kids to get involved worldwide," Christ said.

Fellow student Daniel Jackson hopes to see the organization back at East, because "we have an abundance of students, and if they all just donate a little bit, so many people could benefit from us."

Robert Holloway, a Rotary Club member who hand delivers East collections to Malawi, Africa, said people benefit from the donations.

"The standards of living have increased," he said.

Within a five-mile radius of the wells dug last year -- also purchased by East's fundraising -- the cases of Malaria have gone done and the death rate has diminished.

Once all of the money has been collected and taken over to Malawi, the building process begins. First builders must wait for the dry season which normally takes place around late summer and early fall.

Transportation seems to be a common obstacle when building the wells. Sometimes trucks cannot get closer than two miles from the well. In this situation many of the citizens come out to help carry materials to the well.

"Sometimes they sing and clap ... they even carry all of the cement right to the well site," Holloway said.

This will be Holloway's 21st consecutive year delivering aid to Malawi. He hopes Christ will be able to accompany him this year.

In addition to delivering the money for wells, Holloway also delivers mail for students in Malawi.

Belleville East's American Studies class, a dual-taught English and History class for juniors, had pen pals in Malawi. Starting before winter break, the class sent many letters to students in Malawi describing their homes and schools. Shortly after that, the group received similar letters from Malawi.

Currently, members of local Rotary Clubs, including Holloway, are working toward a global grant for deep water wells. They hope to improve water, sanitation, and education in third world countries.

"The need is so great," Holloway said.

For example, as many as 100 students may use one latrine.

"That's just unacceptable to us," Holloway said.

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