By Celeste Kettaneh ’20
All year long, we Americans tend to use water mindlessly.
Whether it be taking a shower or leaving the faucet running, our water-wasting habits are ingrained. Unlike many places in the world, we have the privilege of taking 60-minute showers and over-watering our plants.
While we use our limited supply of “infinite” amounts of water, others beyond our borders are suffering from diseases caused by their poor water treatment. In some places, it takes a three-mile journey, sunburned shoulders, and empty plastic gallons for a family to get their daily supply. Our separation in water collection expands beyond miles, literally and metaphorically. While we put on our faucets, others put on their shoes to walk for their water.
As a part of the WE Charity, an international charity and education partner based in Canada, schools all around the world were challenged to raise money to change these conditions. They planned to build wells from all the money collected where communities needed it most. The motive was pure: every $25 raised gave one child clean water for the rest of their lives.
The idea of walking for water expanded beyond an online fundraising campaign. The campaign wanted to leave a mark on those participating. While raising money through many donations, WE also challenged students to walk a total of 3.7 miles, the average distance a child must walk to collect water in a day.
Astounded by such a cause, the members of Morgan Park Academy’s Service Council wanted to take part. After a couple of conversations with our faculty advisor, my co-presidents, Sabrina Rathi and Kat Stanley, and I decided to take part in this project with our Upper School classmates.
Over the course of a month, we managed to raise significant amounts of money in donations from our classmates, families, and friends. By the end of April, we had raised a staggering $4,200, which means through our hard work, 168 kids will now have clean water for life.
Our fundraising accomplished, it was time for the walk to start. On April 27, with several other schools around the nation, we walked our part for this cause. The entire time we walked, we held up our large sign, saying “Why Do YOU Walk for Water?” with all our member’s answers written. All our answers connect to the central idea that access to clean water is a fundamental human right and that we should fight for this cause all around the world.
We first started from LaSalle Street Station, wearing blue outerwear and face paint. From the station, we walked to Navy Pier, where we had lunch, then to Northerly Island, and then back to the station. In total, we trekked a total of 10 miles, which was 6.3 miles more than the distance asked of us.
As our walk ended, we all realized that the exhaustion we felt was the reality of children in these communities. Our pain, for one day, was shared with those around the world.
I concluded that we, as Americans, are all lucky to live where we are. While we worry about the water temperature or all the hot water used, children in need around the world worry about when they’ll next be able to drink water safely.
I am genuinely thankful that I have the resources I need at the tips of my fingers. Through our walk, I gained 168 perspectives from these 168 children. Being able to take part in such a tremendous cause moved me from my worn-down sneakers to the shoes of the children walking for their essential resource.
I am glad, as well, that I shared this experience with the rest of the Service Council and MPA community. Without the help of those around me, the idea of raising money would have seemed impossible. I realized anything could be possible with the help of those around you.
Whether it may be right next door or halfway across the world, we can make the world a better place — one drop of water at a time.
Celeste is a student at Morgan Park Academy.