Clean Water in the Classroom

August 17, 2017

Posted by Amanda, Development Director

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Karman is a 3rd grade teacher at Georgetown Elementary School in Hudsonville, Michigan. Her school days are filled with lessons about math, spelling, geography…and water.

Last year, a good friend of Karman’s convinced her to organize a school fundraiser for one of her favorite organizations: 20 Liters. At first Karman was hesitant; the end of the school year is busy enough for a teacher. The last thing she wanted to do was add one more big project to her hectic schedule.

The ultimate motivation for Karman to say ‘yes’ came from an unlikely source: her friend’s adopted son, Abraham. Abraham and his sister were adopted from Liberia, after the loss of their parents at a very young age.

Abraham’s adopted family grew to learn a great deal about the daily struggles of life in Africa; chief amongst those is the constant search for clean water. Abraham’s story was featured in a 20 Liters video, chronicling his early life in Liberia, and the fact that safe, clean drinking water was often an elusive thing [you can watch Abraham’s story here].

Once Karman learned more about Abraham’s story, the decision to organize a school fundraiser became simple. She decided to start small, involving her own classroom and several other classes in her wing of the school.

Her plan started as a simple fundraiser. But Karman wanted to form a deeper connection between the money raised and the 20 Liters water filtration systems that that money would support. In our busy lives, it would be too easy for kids to simply ask their parents for a little bit of money, she thought, and think no more of it.

Karman invited Abraham to the school to meet the students and share his story. His story and his infectious charm captivated the kids. They realized that clean water isn’t so easily available elsewhere in the world as it is here in the developed Western world.

Karman challenged her students to raise funds to help. She challenged them to do SOMETHING to raise their money. It was important that they not just ask for money; they had to somehow work for it. Karman left it up to the students’ imaginations. The kids enthusiastically took up the task, and did a number of things to raise their money. Some went door to door to share 20 Liters’ message; others held can drives; some put on bake sales.

Her students brought the money they raised into their classrooms. They collected the donations in one of 20 Liters’ iconic yellow water jugs. Karman asked each student to explain to the other students how they raised their money.

Once a week, the students would take the 20 Liters jug into the hallway to sort and count the money. This gave them even deeper involvement in the project… and provided some math and counting lessons along the way.

Karman is excited about the lessons her students were able to learn through this fundraiser. They learned about the plight of millions around the world who struggle for access to clean water. And, they learned about how, with a little effort on their parts, they can do a great deal to help others in need.

Karman’s first-year efforts definitely paid off. The six classrooms that participated in the 20 Liters fundraiser raised a grand total of $850. Those funds will allow 20 Liters to provide clean water to over 40 people.

The success of her first drive has motivated Karman to do it again in 2018, only bigger and better. She plans to include the entire school in the effort, and recruit Macatawa Bank in the coin-rolling operation.

For other teachers interested in fundraising, Karman has some advice: Keep it simple and show your passion. Passion inspires passion; when students see passion in their teachers, they will be more than motivated to participate.

20 Liters thanks Karman and the students at Georgetown Elementary School for their efforts in making the world a better place!

If you’re an educator interested in organizing a 20 Liters fundraising event in your school, please contact us for more information. You can also find more information on our website.

Profile written by Bob Andrews

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