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The Impact of the Water Crisis on Education

Students Rebuild Team

February 7, 2014

Without clean water, schools and students suffer. It’s hard for even the most motivated student to learn when she’s thirsty, or sick from drinking dirty water, or has to go to the bathroom but can’t because there’s no running water at school.

Education is the force that allows communities to grow and prosper. But without clean water, the schools just can’t reach their potential, even if they are full of skilled teachers and knowledge-hungry kids.

Dirty water causes a ton of stomach issues, especially in kids and young adults. Everyone knows that it can be hard to focus on school. We’ve all been there—staring at the clock, looking out the window, doodling in the notebook. Add in vicious stomach pains and chronic diarrhea and you can understand why students might not fully engage with their teachers or put in a good effort on their homework. It’s a real, daunting challenge to get kids to stay in school when they feel so ill every day from drinking diseased water.

And without functional bathrooms, there’s no relief to be had on campus. The glory of the bathroom break is totally lost. For girls, the bathroom situation is especially troubling—most female students drop out of school when they hit puberty out of embarrassment due to the lack of privacy. Everyone needs a break sometimes and everyone should be able to enjoy the peace and solitude of a clean, working bathroom.

A lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to go to school at all. Constantly needing more water, mothers are forced to take their children out of school to help them out with gathering water. The nearest source of (dirty) water usually is a couple of miles away. And one trip to the river usually doesn’t cut it. In order to have enough water for a family to drink, bathe and garden, some kids will have to spend all day walking back and forth, lugging jerry cans to the river, filling up and then coming back. So school is out of the question. That’s a huge loss for the kids themselves and for the future generations both.

There’s a really vicious cycle that afflicts a lot of communities: the kids don’t go to school because they need to gather water and so the youngest generation doesn’t receive the education they need to succeed. Everyone keeps getting sick. Everyone is stuck. But clean water changes all that. Girls stay in school. Children come into the classroom healthy, energized, excited to learn. The community is empowered and everyone gains from a new class of leaders, engineers, businessmen, teachers, writers, architects.

Clean water gives kids the chance to dream big again.

The Students Rebuild Water Challenge, in partnership with charity: water and Global Nomads Group, helped bring clean, safe drinking water to those who need it most. Your handmade beads provided more than 16,000 people clean water in Tanzania through matched funds provided by the Bezos Family Foundation for 41 water projects that serve schools and communities.