The Shipley Magazine

Learning Compassionate Participation: A Fundraiser Born from a 6th Grade English Reading Assignment

Lilla Tsvetkov ’27
This year, Shipley’s sixth grade read a powerful novel based on a real story, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. The story is told from the perspective of two South Sudanese youths, Salva and Nya, one set in 1985 and the other in 2008. In the book, Nya walks eight hours a day just to fetch water for her family from the pond. Due to this obligation of hers, she isn’t able to attend school and her sister even falls ill from drinking water. Adam Hornberger and I were so moved by the story. When Mrs. Corgan suggested that we take action, we knew we had to do something. We had to make a difference, even if it would be a small one.

We started by doing a little research, and found out that former Lost Boy Salva Dut runs a non-profit organization, Water for South Sudan, which builds wells there. We set a goal to raise $5,000 to put toward the cost a well. As hefty as this goal may seem, we felt confident that if we included the Shipley community, we could reach it. In January, we had an extremely successful Middle School dress-down day, raising $900 dollars for our cause. Adam and I were positively surprised by the turn-out, and were motivated to do more. 

On Friday, February 26th, we are hosting a full day of fundraising activities and service learning for the 6th grade. This includes a special guest speaker, fun learning activities, and no classes! A highlight of the day will be the Walk for Water, where every student (in-person and virtual) will walk around the field/neighborhood carrying containers of water or empty jugs. Students collect sponsors, which can be parents, friends, or family members, and for every mile they walk, each sponsor gives a certain amount of money. We are hoping (and crossing our fingers) for a huge turn-out and lots of fun! In our fundraiser, we aim to inspire our community that no challenge is too big to be resolved or fixed, as long as you try to make a difference, big or small. 
With deep appreciation, I would like to acknowledge all the wonderful teachers and staff who helped us along the way, especially Mrs. Corgan, Dr. Lyon, Dr. Kinsella, Mrs. Taylor, and all the 6th grade advisors! 

Our Research about Water

Everyone loves a cool, refreshing drink of water or warm shower, right? Well, that same substance, water, is the killer of the most children in the world. About 6,000 children a day die due to water-borne illnesses because they lack access to clean water. Water-borne illnesses thrive in ponds, rivers, and streams which contain animal droppings that have not been filtered properly for human consumption. Some of these illnesses include Cholera, Typhoid Fever, Dysentery, and more. The symptoms lead to serious dehydration but drinking more contaminated water will not help. This dilemma is one millions of people in the world face every day, and going to a doctor immediately is out of question for most. While waterborne illnesses exist worldwide, unfortunately, the hardest hit areas are low-income countries like Sudan, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. 

There are many ways waterborne illnesses can be prevented, such as providing community hygiene lessons and proper latrine systems. Drilling fresh-water wells is another act that can make a huge difference in people's lives. The wells work on a basic principle of filtering groundwater found deep in the soil, and then using a mechanism to pump water out of the spout. Still, wells are extremely expensive and cost around $15,000 to build.

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.