Each day, dozens of children at the Longa Secondary School in the Ruvuma Region of Tanzania face a two-mile walk to get water — a journey that takes time away from the classroom and often brings to the community water that is contaminated because of poor sanitary conditions.
This week and next, 30 Boston College freshmen are walking the roughly two miles between the Newton and Chestnut Hill campuses to raise awareness of the world water crisis that affects Tanzania and other countries. Proceeds from the walk – a goal of $2,500 has been set – will be used to help the children of the Longa Secondary School by purchasing rain catchment systems and hand washing stations.
The BC-Longa School connection was established by H2O for Life, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that links schools in the United States with schools in developing countries. Freshman Chris Olmanson took part in a similar event while a junior at Wayzata High School in Minnesota to benefit a school in the Philippines.
“When I started learning about the world water crisis in high school, it came as a complete shock to me,” said Olmanson. “In talking with a group of friends here at BC about the issue, we decided it would be great to continue the effort.”
According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion people in the world — one out of six people — lack access to safe drinking water and an estimated 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation.
Through Feb. 25, freshman organizers Kelsey Stuart, Jon Geary and Du Park will join Olmanson in leading two groups of students on the symbolic two miles. The walks — which began on Monday — will take place at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Organizers say students are undeterred by the prospect of cold temperatures, slippery sidewalks and large snow banks.
“We were hoping to do it when it was a little warmer, but realized that it really couldn’t wait,” said Park. “People are used to turning on the faucet and having clean, safe drinking water come out. That is not the reality for millions of children in developing countries.
“Many of the students who attend the Longa School miss classes because of the long journey to get water. Female students usually drop out once they hit puberty due to a lack of proper hygiene available to them,” he said. “We should do everything in our power to help provide clean drinking water for people, especially the children at this school.”