Quenching a Thirst for Knowledge [and Clean Water]
For kids in rural Rwanda, access to clean water at school can be the difference between getting an education or dropping out of school. When children are consistently ill because of water-borne diseases, they don’t attend classes. When children are busy fetching water for their families, they don’t attend classes. And when kids don’t attend classes, they don’t learn much. So, by making clean water available at schools, 20 Liters can improve the likelihood that vulnerable kids get the education that they so desperately need.
Finding enough water to quench the thirst of the 1,000 students in the Cyugaro School during the dry season is a nearly impossible task. The roads are dusty. The floors of the school are dusty. The desks are dusty. And so are the kids who sit at those desks. During the dry season, there can be weeks without rain. And as the dry season wears on, any water stored in the school’s Rain Water Harvest System is usually long gone.
The only alternative is to ask students and staff to bring water from home at the beginning of each school day. That water most commonly comes from the river, which is about a 40-minute walk from the school. The water is brown and filled with sediment. No matter how thirsty you may be, nobody wants to drink the water from the river.
When 20 Liters offered to install a SAM2 Community Filter at the school, all that changed.
Now, each morning with the kids arrive with small jugs of river water, they pour that water into the SAM2 Filter. As the water fills the filter, the kids love to listen to the tinkling, musical sound. They know this sound means that the filter is doing its work. In just a few minutes, a teacher will turn the tap and fresh, bacteria free, drinkable water will flow from the filter.
The filter does require maintenance. For each SAM2 Community Filter that is installed, 20 Liters trains maintenance operators. At Cyugaro School, one of the operators is Samson. Three times each week, Samson comes to the school and backwashes the sediment from the filter cartridges. Samson continues to volunteer his time so the filter will quench the thirst of the children in his community. Not just their thirst for clean water, but also their thirst for knowledge.