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Africa In The Classroom

Everyday in Africa, many people--particularly women--have to walk for miles to get water. The chore of fetching water is no small task. It involves walking distances of up to ten miles to the nearest water source. The heavy containers filled with the day’s supply of water must then be carried home. This often takes up a large part of a woman’s day. Many times the water source is not a safe one. It might be scooped from an unprotected water source that contains parasites or dangerous bacteria.

Aside from diseases caused directly by ingesting water from unsafe sources, there are many indirect effects as well. Women who spend hours each day obtaining water do not have time to care for their families or participate in any income-generating activities. Girls who must fetch water often do not have time to attend school. Knowledge of these harsh facts gave birth to the idea for the ten mile fundraiser.

The African Well Fund asks students to “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes”. Eighty-four thousand four hundred eighty pennies ($844.80) lined up makes a mile. We are challenging students to learn more about the need for accessible clean water in Africa and to take action by raising a “mile” of pennies through penny fundraisers. Each school or class that raises one mile worth of pennies, just $840, will make a significant difference in the daily lives of many Africans.

Lesson Plan Summaries

By educating ourselves and others about key issues such as the importance and availability of clean water and the difficulties that many Africans must endure to get it, we gain a greater understanding of what life is like for many people who lack access to clean water.

These are some possible lesson plans to use for this theme. All are available online here. The lessons are listed according to recommended grade level. However, the grade listed is just a suggestion; lessons can easily be modified for other grades levels.

Grades 1-2 -- Splish Splash: Daily Use of Water

This lesson is two to three weeks in duration. The lesson focuses on the daily use of water in America, Kenya and Ghana. Students will learn the differences and similarities in water usage in these three countries and will gain an understanding of the value of water.

Grades 3-5 – Water Uses and Children’s Lives in East Africa

This lesson plan is approximately one week in duration. The lesson compares the uses of water in the United States to some regions in Kenya and Tanzania. Students will learn how water defines the roles of children in the U.S. and in parts of Africa as they examine the cultural impact of water.

Grades 6-8 – Water – The Flow of Woman’s Work

This lesson plan is about one week in duration. The unit compares water-related work in Lesotho to that in the United States. By focusing on gender-specific tasks, students learn about factors that influence gender roles in various societies.

Grades 9-12 – Water Pressure

This lesson plan is approximately one week in duration. The lesson looks at the availability of clean water and compares the usage of water in the U.S. to that in Africa. The unit stresses the value of water and the importance of protecting this natural resource. Students will discuss problems and solutions to the water distribution.

What Students Can Do

1. Help to conserve water. Some ways that you can conserve water around your home are by:
a. not letting the tap run while you brush your teeth
b. using collected rainwater to water plants
c. not running the dishwasher when it’s only half full

2. Learn more about water and life in Africa. Here are some great resources:
a. The Groundwater foundation
b. The Peace Corps
c. All Africa

3. Share what you have learned. Tell others about water conditions in Africa and encourage others to learn more and to conserve water.

4. Help to raise money to build wells in Africa by holding a fundraiser for the African Well Fund. Here are some ideas for fundraisers that can be used in schools:
a. Basketball shoot-off -- Get sponsors to donate a pledged amount for every basket you make, for example, a penny per basket. With several sponsors, the amount can quickly add up.
b. Penny wars
c. Penny carnival
d. Matching donations -- Ask local churches or businesses to match the donations you collect.
e. “Ten Mile Walk” -- Collect money by asking for sponsors in a walk-a-thon. Donations could be per kilometer or mile, or flat rate.

Funds raised can be mailed to:
Attention: African Well Fund
440 R Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.
20001-1935, USA

Please mark “African Well Fund – U205” on the memo section of the check.

For more information on how classrooms are working with us, please visit our News Page.
If you would like to hold a fundraiser in your school, please contact us.