Jacob Sloane admitted he doesn’t think twice about clean water. He goes over to the faucet, turns the knob, and there it is, in abundance.
Not everyone has it so easy, which was the point of the Water Walk, an exercise for Brookfield Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders, organized by teacher Melanie Horn.
Horn said she had her seventh-grade science students read Linda Sue Park’s “A Long Walk to Water,” based on the story of Salva Dut and his efforts to raise money to drill clean water wells in Africa.
There are about 780 million people in the world who do not have access to clean drinking water, and more without the conveniences of indoor plumbing who have to walk to a communal well or spring to collect water, and then walk it back home. To give a sense of what that walk is like, Horn had the students carry gallon jugs of water as they made quarter-mile laps on the school track.
“They’re carrying the water so they understand it’s not really fun to lug that around,” she said.
“It’s not easy,” Jacob agreed after completing his first lap. “We’re working our butts off carrying this water.”
After the third lap, the walk was “really difficult,” Jacob said.
“Hard,” said student Raquel Morton after her second lap.
Putting herself in the place of those who have to walk for water, she said, “I feel bad for them.”
“They have it hard, and we have it easy,” Jacob said.
A few ventured to carry a 10-gallon jug of water. “Holy crap,” said seventh-grade English teacher Miriam Necastro following her second lap.
Students signed up sponsors to raise money to be sent to Dut’s organization, Water For South Sudan, which is based in Rochester, N.Y. The agency drills new wells, rehabilitates existing ones, builds water storage and sanitation facilities and teaches proper hygiene.
“I’m actually having a good time doing it because it’s going to a good cause,” Jacob said.