Most Holy Rosary Students’ Commitment, Sacrifice, Result in Clean Water for African Villagers

| April 16, 2015

photo of girl at water fountainBY MICHCA BALLARD-FORTIN

As its mission states, “At Most Holy Rosary School, Jesus is our model; students are our focus… we develop strong Christian character for all who embrace our philosophy. Through partnerships with parents and the community, we prepare our students for lifelong success.”

What better way to develop strong Christian character and prepare students for lifelong success than to encourage students to be stewards of God’s creation and help others?

It is with great pride, that Most Holy Rosary 1st grade teacher Katherine Rossi recently shared how her class came up with its service project last year.“While teaching a lesson about needs versus wants, the students created a list of things we need to survive: food, shelter and water,” she said. “When it came to ‘needs’ the discussion was eye-opening. The children began to understand that families, children their own age, in different parts of the world, do not have some of these basics, like safe, clean water.”

Rossi used her classroom iPad and SMART board to help the children research communities in need, and they found The Water Project. This non-profit organization works closely with local in-country partners in Africa to facilitate basic water needs in small villages.

The first graders and Rossi embraced their project and worked diligently throughout the school year. The students learned that by making some small changes in their behavior and working to put others first, they could make a positive difference for others. Many of the students took a two-week Water Challenge, drinking tap water instead of pricey drinks. In a video they created, the children told viewers the types of beverages their families were giving up: soda, sports drinks, coffee, lemonade, etc. All of the money saved by drinking tap water was donated to The Water Project.

By participating in the Water Challenge and in conjunction with an active fundraising web page, the classmates surpassed their original goal and raised $1,912 within one school year.

Rossi explained, “Over the summer, The Water Project kept the class informed about which project they funded and its progress. A water pump was installed to fix a broken well in the Lungi community of Sierra Leone. This re­habilitated source of safe clean water serves 200 people and greatly improves their everyday lives.”

The Water Project organization has a five-step process, which includes community engagement, education, installation of project, follow-up and evaluation. Newly appointed Most Holy Rosary Principal Jennifer Petosa said, “The Water Project organization and these steps explained to our students that service is more than just digging a well. The children got to experience in a real way, that if you respect, listen and teach others to help themselves, you are giving a hand up for a better life. I am so inspired by what these young children have done and by the faith-filled guidance they have received from Miss Rossi.”

The students at the Syracuse, New York, school were recently informed that their project has been completed and that the villagers have received education on how to maintain their new well and water pump. The Water Project website quotes community member Chief Pa Adikalie as saying, “I am very glad for the new pump. This well has given us a lot of good use, but when the pump isn’t functioning properly, we have to go to the waterside. This will help us a lot. Thank you very much!”

Michca Ballard-Fortin is the administrative assistant to the Catholic Schools Office and the proud parent of two students in diocesan schools.

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Category: Christian Service, Community

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