Taken for granted
Event raises awareness of clean water access
Nearly lost amid Grand Valley State University’s Homecoming festivities, 10 students gathered Tuesday in the Pere Marquette room of the Kirkhof Center to learn about the plight of those in the world without access to clean water.
“(About) 1.1 billion people in the world still don’t have adequate access to safe water,” said Colleen Condra, a GVSU education major.
Condra organized and hosted the event to help raise awareness of the issue and funding for her return to Tanzania in winter 2014, when she will install water filters, composting toilets and hand-washing stations.
To demonstrate to the attending students the difficulties these people have in getting their water, Condra staged a series of relay races. The first involved students carrying two full buckets of water across the room and back again without spilling any.
“They carry water however they can; some of them carry it in jugs in a bag like a backpack over their backs,” she said. “You have to imagine, if you’re carrying water that far, you’re going to want to carry as much as you can at once, so you don’t have to go back and do it again.”
The second relay was to demonstrate the creation and function of biosand water filters. These filters are constructed in Grand Rapids, and Condra will be taking 52 of them to install in public schools in Tanzania next year. The students took a cup and ran across the room to put gravel, sand and woodchips in the cup to simulate the filters.
Biosand filters are waist-high cans layered with different types of particles that can be found locally, so that the Tanzanians can construct and repair the filters if necessary.
After the races, Condra discussed her upcoming trip to Tanzania and gave the attending students an opportunity to donate to her cause. So far she has raised $5,000 of the $10,000 she needs.
Though the event was small, Condra said it served its purpose.
“I get more donations with adults,” she said. “With college students, it’s all about raising awareness, and I think that went well.”