Should students be back in school? Thanks to safe water, these students think so!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

In the United States, parents’ opinions about their children returning to school this year are…mixed. 

In most U.S. communities, parents are divided about whether students should be back to school in-person. Some also disagree whether students who are learning in-person should wear masks.

In the regions where The Water Project works, however, virtual learning isn’t possible right now. Neither is standardized vaccination. This makes the measures available to the people we serve—physical distancing, masking, and proper hygiene—even more vital.

Thanks in part to their new water sources, many students in rural Africa have the power to keep themselves safe during the pandemic, even while attending school in person. This is a blessing, because these students’ voices are united: they want to be in school.

A student washes his hands at Friends Kaimosi Special School.

“It is a privilege to be back at school,” said Brian, a student at Friends Kaimosi Special School in Kenya. “My prayer is that everyone adhere to rules and regulations put in place so that schools cannot close again because of increased numbers of COVID-19 virus.”

One of the most critical facets of COVID-19 prevention (and the prevention of any disease, really) is good hygiene, which is only possible with an accessible source of clean water.

Children play at their new well at COG Prophecy Primary School.

“The closing of schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak was one of the most awful feelings I have ever had in my schooling,” said Fatmata, who attends COG Prophecy Primary School in Sierra Leone. “I was sad because students will be the ones who will be affected the most, thinking of the poor educational state in [my] country.”

“Being back to school was the happiest experience I have ever had,” said Mariatu. She goes to Ahmadiya Muslim Primary School in Sierra Leone.

Happy kids at their new well at Ahmadiya Muslim School in Sierra Leone.

“It was on one blessed evening that I heard my mom telling my elder sister to prepare our school uniforms, that schools are resuming on the following Monday. I thought it was a dream and asked my mom twice for clarity, and I shouted with joy and danced ‘til everyone was laughing.”

“Being back to school, I feel motivated. I foresee a bright future ahead of me,” said Mutua, a student from Kako Special School for the Mentally Handicapped in Kenya.

Students at Kako Special School in front of their new rain tank.

“I love going to school, attending my lessons. The long break meant that I had to miss my classes, thus interfering with my studies.”

“Through proper handwashing, I can get rid of the COVID-19 virus and other disease-causing organisms,” said Daniel K., a 15-year-old student from Lion Rock community in Sierra Leone. “Because eating with an unclean hand or touching my nose, mouth, eyes, and ears can create higher risks of me contracting the virus.”

Children in Lion Rock Community in Sierra Leone celebrate clean water.

Thankfully, handwashing is now a lot easier for these five students, which was made possible by the generous support of donors like you. Not all of their problems will go away with reliable water, but being back in school is crucial for building a long and happy future for these kids and others like them.

These quotes, smiles, and excitement for school are an important reminder of what such a simple act can do. Help celebrate the joy of back-to-school these students shared by helping other students go back to school with clean, safe water this fall!

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Jamie is a storyteller by nature. In joining the Water Project, she’s finally found a workplace where that pesky bleeding heart of hers can be put to use (and, less importantly, that BA in English Language & Literature from New England College).