April 6, 2022

Round Rock middle school students to give up showers to build a well in East Africa

Students at Hernandez Middle School practice carrying gallons of water during the Water Walk to understand the importance of clean drinking water and how hard it is for kids in Africa to gather fresh water and carry it. Photo by Fernanda Figueroa

It’s likely to get a little gamey at Hernandez Middle School, but it will be for a good cause.

The Round Rock school will be participating in a Shower Strike from April 20-26 to raise money to install a water well in East Africa.

The event, in partnership with the Austin-based nonprofit Well Aware, is similar to a charity race in which participants pledge money for each day they go without a shower during the weeklong strike. Students also can participate by using less water or by using a bucket of water to clean themselves instead of a shower, said Sarah Evans, the founder of Well Aware.

“These kids, they’re just so eager to understand what’s happening in different places in the world,” Evans said of the Hernandez students. “And just as eager to learn how they can be a part of making a change.”

The funds that the middle school raises will go toward Well Aware’s water system in Atot, a rural village in northern Kenya, said Hannah Ruark, a spokesperson for the nonprofit. This water system, which will be Well Aware’s 100th, will be a deep borehole about 150 meters deep with solar-powered pumping and distribution throughout the community of over 2,000 people.

This is the 13th year Well Aware has hosted its Shower Strike and the second year the middle school has taken part. In 2019, the school raised over $5,000, which provided 360 people in Arusha, Tanzania, with clean water through a solar-powered water well, Ruark said.

Over the years, Well Aware has raised approximately $2 million from Shower Strikes for water wells in East Africa, helping over 170,000 people, in Kenya and Tanzania, Ruark said.

To better understand the importance of having a working well, the middle school students recently participated in a walk to see how far they could carry 5 gallons of water, the equivalent of what you need in a day. Each full bucket weights about 40 pounds.

The students learned that often kids Africa, especially girls, are walking to get water and carry it back to the family. They learned about how heavy it is, how time-consuming it can be and how that can prevent girls from attending school. Those students who couldn’t carry the full 5 gallons also had the option of carrying less.

Emilee Hinegardner, the coordinator of the school’s International Baccalaureate program, which is spearheading the event, said it’s important to provide students with an opportunity to connect with others and what their experiences are.

This year the goal is for students to raise a minimum of $15 each, which can provide clean water to one person for the rest of their lives, Hinegardner said.

Share this