Through the Thirst Project, — a non-profit organization aiming to provide wells in communities without clean water — Key Club took their first steps toward spreading awareness of the emerging global water crisis.
In hopes to launch Manhattan High into taking action, Key Club hosted a group of speakers — Road Warriors — in the Little Theater on Oct. 9. The presenters educated members of Key Club, Red Cross Club and other student attendees on the different ways they could go about getting involved in making a difference through the Thirst Project. According to senior and treasurer Bakthi Nilaweera, a donation of 25 cents can give someone a year’s worth of clean water, whereas $25 can give someone a lifetime supply.
“Not only did we hear stories about people around our age who dealt with illnesses that we could only imagine with how fortunate we are,” sophomore and communications officer Ashi Wickramasundara said, “but we saw how they had to travel miles to collect dirty water only to miss school, get sick due to all the bacteria in the water and face other health issue[s] from carrying heavy water cans.”
To further illustrate the effects of contaminated water, students watched a 20-minute documentary about a community in Swaziland who was impacted by the Thirst Project. According to Nilaweera, the video followed the story of a girl named Happiness, whose family is affected by these issues.
“Her sister had died from the contaminated water and it was this that stuck with me most of all,” Nilaweera said. “Someone so happy, someone who literally has the name happiness, was brought to tears when she talked about her sister’s death. Someone so uplifting was brought low by this global crisis.”
Key Club was given the opportunity to hear the presentation again at the Fall Key Club Rally in Lawrence Free State on Oct. 11. In addition to hearing from special speakers such as district level officer Kylie Jenkins, members participated in workshops about personality types, leadership, public speaking and children’s services. Halfway through, students came together to make decorative care bags containing sanitary products for a women’s shelter in Kansas.
“I got to connect,” senior and president Duru Dogan said. “Not only with my club, but with my Key Club friends from all over the state.”
In the weeks to follow, Key Club plans to have a t-shirt fundraiser to gain MHS involvement.
“I just want people to remember that all it takes is five seconds of courage to make a change,” Wickramasundara said. “This was a saying I knew before the Thirst Project presentation and I have never said it with more conviction than I do now, because it really is true if we all have that mindset.”