Water Wars event raises funds for Tanzania

GVL/Bo Anderson

Freshman Alyssa Kulesza works with her team to filter and purify water during a demonstration at Thursdays Water Wars event.

GVL/Bo Anderson Freshman Alyssa Kulesza works with her team to filter and purify water during a demonstration at Thursday’s Water Wars event.

Becky Spaulding

On March 21, a group of about twenty people gathered in the Neimeyer Multipurpose room for the Water Wars event, to learn about just what it takes to get clean water in Tanzania.

According to a report from UNICEF and the World Health Organization, 16 of the 54 countries in Africa have less than 25 percent sanitation coverage. That means not only no running water, but no clean water, no bathrooms, and nowhere for people to wash their hands.

Colleen Condra, a senior at Grand Valley State University, is working with Global Sustainable Partnerships to bring bathrooms and hand washing stations to three schools in Tanzania. GSP is an organization that helps provide access to clean water for school children in developing countries.

Condra studied abroad in Tanzania and saw the poor sanitation conditions first hand – and ended up determined to help.

“I taught in a school there for a month, I taught in a private school,” Condra said. “There, the facilities are ‘nice’, but even they have lacking facilities, and they’re one of the few that actually had toilets. Most schools don’t, and as a result, kids get sick.”

Condra teamed up with GSP because one hundred percent of their proceeds will go to the children, she said.

“(GSP) has helped 138 schools thus far put filters in for their water, and that has helped 103,000 children,” Condra said. “I partnered with Kimberly (of GSP) because all the proceeds that she raises go directly to the cause, there are no administrative costs taken out of it. A lot of organizations take out half of what you raise, you donate twenty bucks and only ten make it there.”

The Water Wars event, hosted by Condra and her fellow Resident Advisor Beth Buchanan, was meant to raise awareness on campus, she said. The event was held on the eve of World Water Day.

“We’re doing this as our program of the month,” Buchanan said. “We mostly got the idea because we’re doing it to support World Water Day tomorrow, which is the global effort for water cooperation.”

But this isn’t the last event Condra will be holding – she hopes to raise the $10,000 it will cost to place the sanitation in three schools by December, she said. Water Wars was the kick-off event for her Toilets for Tanzania fundraising project, which is also her honors senior project.

Roughly 20 people attended the event and were split into teams of five, and pitted against each other to raise money. Each team was asked to put change they’d collected into milk jugs — as well as perform tasks that a Tanzanian might have to in order to get clean water.

“This is your new family,” Condra said as the groups assembled.

They held a relay, in which members of the team had to carry heavy buckets of water back and forth across the room, simulating the trip a family member might take in order to get one bucket of water in Africa. In between simulations, Condra and Buchanan gave the groups facts about water use in Tanzania.

Buchanan informed them that, on average, Americans use 100 gallons of water a day – while in Tanzania, they use one to five gallons.

“We use 20 times the water they use,” Condra said, reiterating that in Tanzania, they would have to travel and carry every drop of water they use.

The teams also had to create a filter for dirtied water using household items like paper plates with holes in them, slotted spoons, and eventually, coffee filters.

After that, Condra displayed one of the filters that will be used below the bathrooms in the schools, and explained the Toilets for Tanzania project and its goals.

The groups then created their own filters using two sizes of gravel and sand, which are the items used in the actual filters.

The Water Wars event, meant to raise awareness and kick off the fundraising for Condra’s Toilets for Tanzania project, will be followed by more fundraisers.

To keep up on the progress of Toilets for Tanzania, like them on Facebook and for more information about Global Sustainable Partnerships, visit gspartnerships.org.
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