Seeking the water of life for the world’s people


A new student organization is raising awareness about the global water crisis and raising funds to build wells in countries that don’t have access to clean water.

By Elianna Novitch

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A new University of Iowa student organization, Hawkeye Water to Thrive, is making a difference in accessibility to clean, safe water one drop at a time.

The group hopes to raise awareness about the global water crisis and raise money to build wells in countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, where safe, clean water isn’t easily accessible.

“We have a lot of privileges here at the University of Iowa, and I feel like I should give back to people who don’t have the privileges I do,” executive-board member Rachel Sither said. “Something as simple as clean water is taken for granted.

“We can walk to the sink and get it from the tap or just go buy a bottle of water, whereas there are women and children around the world who have to walk as far as six hours for that access.”

The wells that Water to Thrive is raising money to build would bring sustainable, safe water to communities of around 250 people for 20 years, and, organizers hope, alter the lives of the people in those communities in countless ways.

“The money we fundraise will go to building wells in places that really need them. It costs about $5,000 to build a well,” said executive-board member Alexandra Hernandez-Pardo.

She has witnessed in person the effect these wells can have on residents after they have been installed.

“I went to Uganda after graduating high school to do some volunteer work and was actually able to see a well be built and got to see the residents’ reactions of happiness as the well began working. It was amazing to see that,” Hernandez-Pardo said.

The local Water to Thrive is a subdivision of the national Water to Thrive organization. Executive-board member Megan Phillips initially brought the idea for the new student organization to the UI’s campus.

“There aren’t a lot of [Water to Thrive] student groups out there, but I was a part of one at Wartburg and really enjoyed the work we did and wanted to start one up here to see what we could do,” she said.

Hawkeye Water to Thrive not only wants to raise funds to build wells but also take on local issues as well.

“We also want to focus on local water issues, like how to save water and the effects that can have,” Hernandez-Pardo said.

According to the national Water to Thrive organization, more than 800 million people worldwide lack access to clean, safe water and around 3 million people, many of them children, die each year from waterborne illnesses in developing countries.

“There are so many big problems in the world, but I feel like this [global water crisis] is one that we can fix because especially in Africa, the clean water is there, they just need the capability to drill the well and the resources to do that,” Phillips said. “There is no reason that they shouldn’t have clean, safe water.”

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