Wells Bring Hope
Albeit difficult to fathom walking seven to ten miles a day each way just to get a few buckets of water, in Niger this is the reality. Because the country is so poor and water is so scarce, young girls are deprived of the time for education and cannot attend school.
When SMC students in Professor Nancy Grass Hemmert's Group Communication Speech class began the semester, they were not aware of how their lives could directly affect those in Niger.
Hemmert immediately assigned groups to reach out to Wells Bring Hope, an organization dedicated to saving lives by drilling wells in Niger. The class' goal is to raise $6,100 by Dec. 7 to pay for one well.
Wells Bring Hope reports that one out of four children will die before the age of five - their goal is to prevent the problem from furthering.
Student Reham Alrayes said, "After I learned about the children dying and them not being able to go to school, I thought that by taking the class I was doing something good."
Student Lucais Hines admits participating heavily in a group environment was what worried him most.
"Those first couple of days I thought ‘Oh God, I'm not sure I can do this,'" said Hines. "But I thought ‘If I don't do this, I'm not going to help out my group and kids are going to suffer because of this.'"
"No matter how bad I felt going up and doing a presentation in front of people, when I know people might inside be poking fun at me, and all that. No matter how badly I felt, I knew those kids felt ten times as bad as I did," he said.
Kayo Johnson, another student in the group, has a newfound appreciation for water and other basic needs.
"I used to go take a shower, and an hour later, the water would still be running," Johnson said. "And these kids are begging and suffering for water that I don't appreciate. It made me lose my selfish way of thinking and living."
"I'm able to drink water from a pipe that goes down deep into the ground," said Johnson. "Over there, they're asking for a well that you have to drop a bucket thirty feet down and drag it thirty feet up just to get fresh water."
According to Johnson, each group in the class has contributed significantly to the effort. Some have created wristbands and t-shirts, while one student offered the profits from her original artwork, which is her main source of income.
"That shows you somebody who's willing to give up their livelihood," said Johnson. "That's a living sacrifice. I really feel like everybody [in the class] is rooted in Wells Bring Hope."
"It's not an easy class," he said. "I think a lot of us were thinking, ‘This'll be an easy A' but then we came in and realized it was work."
The students share the belief that this project has been an eye-opening experience in which they can all find encouragement.
"If we can free up that time for them where they don't have to take up half their day just to go out and get a few buckets of water they would have the chance to have an education," said Johnson.
"Wells bring hope," said Johnson. "That hope is a hope for education, a hope for water, a hope for a life and the dream that we hope for ourselves."
"They want the same things that we want," he said. "And they want to do the same things that we like to do. But because of their situation they're limited."
To make a contribution, there is a donation box in the African American Center in the Campus Complex. Or visit www.wellsbringhope.org.