Hidden Oaks Middle Students Work to Solve Water Crisis in South Sudan
Under the guidance and direction of Martin County Middle School Teacher of the Year, Stephanie McCreary, Hidden Oaks Middle School (HOMS) students have continued their tradition of working to solve the global water crisis by raising funds to bring wells to South Sudan.
Ms. McCreary was motivated to support clean water efforts in South Sudan after reading A Long Walk to Water, a novel depicting the true story of Salva Dut, a "lost boy" of Sudan and the founder of Water for South Sudan, a non-profit organization that works to create access to safe drinking water for communities located in remote, rural areas of South Sudan. At the age of 11, Salva’s village was attacked by soldiers fighting a civil war. Salva and thousands of other boys became refugees, walking hundreds of miles and finally finding care in a camp in Kenya. Also included in the novel is the story of Nya, a young girl who carries unclean water from a pond to her home each day because there is no well in their village. The story ends when Salva is adopted in America, goes to college and eventually starts his charity.
Over the last few years, HOMS students have participated in fundraisers and walk-a-thons, raising thousands of dollars for the cause. This year, students completed their walk-a-thon on May 23, walking the bus loop for 30 minutes while carrying water jugs to simulate the long walk to water that Sudanese women make each day to bring water to their families from unclean ponds and rivers. Students asked for pledges from their families to support the charity, and invited their parents to class on May 24 to view presentations they created in small groups on topics such as the Dinka Tribe, dysentery, Guinea worm disease, the water crisis and the geography of Sudan and South Sudan.
Ms. McCreary is equally passionate about the cause and the impact it has made on her students. When asked what the project means to students, she shared that she hopes it will inspire them to always look for ways to make the world a better place for all.
“It [the project] opens up the truth to them that there are many people in this world that are struggling and suffering. They see that they are very blessed. Hopefully, they feel inspired to help others, even those that they will never meet.”
This year, students' fundraising activities hit an all-time high - they raised a total of $3,383.00, pushing their total contributions to more than $15,000 throughout the lifetime of the project.