Greetings and happy Spring!
On March 22nd, World Water Day, BARKA Foundation began a 5-week educational reciprocity program with Wyoming Seminary (Sem), a private college prep school in PA which culminated last month on Earth Day.
Students and faculty were incredibly moved by the dire situation of the Namougou High School and Middle School which has been displaced to Fada (45 km from Namoungou). Over 400 students were living in extreme poverty, biking or walking over 5 miles to school, with little water and food, and living without any parental supervision (their parents are still in Namoungou while students have moved to Fada to continue their education).
BARKA created two short films to expose the situation (see links below).
Wyoming Seminary decided to take action to first secure the water fees for all students which are about $2/month for each student. For 400 students, their goal was to raise $2400 for the 3 months of school that remained. Many Namoungou students had no funds at all to pay for their water at the local pump.
Many students were also going hungry. They had no means to cook for themselves and the school had no canteen which means students had to return home several miles away (some were walking) and light a fire, fetch water and cook a meal- if they could. Sem's second goal was to fund a school canteen to feed every sudent and enable to stay at school during the break between 12 and 3 rather than traveling so far to home only to return for the afternoon session from 3 to 5pm.
Their 3rd goal was to raise funds for bikes for the many students who had no bikes to travel to school and had to walk several miles four times a day.
Sem's virtual Walk for Water ended up raising over $6000 which enabled them to reach all their goals. This week BARKA is leading a ceremony at Namoungou's School to deliver 31 bikes. A canteen lunch program started last month and all students' water fees have been paid from March through end of May when school ends.
This has been one of the most successful educational programs BARKA has ever done. In addition to the funds raised, the impact, and the raised awareness within the community, over 100 students from each school created a penpal relationship with each other, our films were screened and discussed, and academic enagement was made with the Environment Club, French classes, and the entire Lower School. The program was such a success that it has inspired us to replicate it in other schools, something we will be exploring this summer with an intern who works at Sem.
As so often happens, a simple water project leads to a robust series of actions on numerous levels with expanded impact. Thank you for being a part of it.
Just like every drop leads to the ability to fill an entire bucket, so too does every dollar count and contribute to our overall goal. Thank you for your consideration. Barka!