EU education department raises money to build water wells in South Sudan

Category:  News
Friday, November 8th, 2019 at 11:50 AM
EU education department raises money to build water wells in South Sudan  by Madison Streich
Students are raising money in the Iron Giraffe Challenge, helping build water wells in South Sudan. | Photo: Madison Streich

Edinboro University’s Middle and Secondary Education Department and the Educational Leadership Department is fundraising for Water for South Sudan.

“Water for South Sudan was founded by Salva Dut. Dut was born in southwestern Sudan to the Dinka Tribe,” said Dr. Heather-Lee Baron. “Dut was separated from his family at 11 due to the Sudanese Civil War. Two million people died during the war and 4 million were displaced.” 

Baron continued, “In 1990, he started a group of 1,500 ‘Lost Boys’ who walked from Ethiopia to Kenya — almost 800 miles. When people found out about Dut’s story, some called him a hero.”

Dut lived in a refugee camp for 10 years before he got an opportunity to move to the U.S. He ended up living in Rochester, New York. Dut was one of the first “Lost Boys” to be resettled in the U.S., and he became an American citizen.

“Years later, he learned that his father was alive in South Sudan. His father was dying of a water-borne illness. This caused Dut to help people like his father in his country by bringing clean water to South Sudan. Water for South Sudan only drills in peaceful places,” said Baron.

The Edinboro professor learned about Dut’s story in his biography, “A Long Walk to Water,” by Linda Sue Park. Baron was inspired by this and decided she wanted to do more. 

“I read her book and loved it and the idea of the Iron Giraffe Challenge, so I took the idea to my students,” she explained.

Edinboro is now taking part in the Iron Giraffe Challenge, which is directly related to Water for South Sudan, the nonprofit organization. Since 2014, the challenge has raised over $1 million from over 500 schools. 

“I have personally been interested in the world’s refugee crisis for some time now and read, learn what I can, when I can,” said Baron.

She teaches a multiculturalism class open to the whole education department. 

“As I just mentioned, I try to keep up with the literature for various reasons, but in this case, it was to make book suggestions (in reference to discovering ‘A Long Walk to Water’) for my students to use in their future classrooms.” 

The Water for South Sudan website states: “millions of children walk eight or more hours a day to collect clean water.”

“Many people die from water-born parasites from the dirty water they are stuck with. Water for South Sudan not only brings clean, safe water, but helps build wells so the people of the villages do not have to travel far for clean water,” the website continues. “Villagers actually help build the wells, empowering them to change their lives. Villagers also help maintain the wells. Water for South Sudan helps teach them all about the wells. Around the wells, schools, clinics and markets pop up.”

“With people’s help, we can transform a lot of lives,” said Baron. 

Students and staff from the university may notice giraffes with scales on posters. There is a QR code on them that anyone can scan, and from there, they can donate to the Iron Giraffe Challenge.

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