Magazine article Social Studies Review

Ryan Hreljac: Clean Water for All

Magazine article Social Studies Review

Ryan Hreljac: Clean Water for All

Article excerpt

In January 1998, Ryan Hreljac was in the first grade at Holy Cross Catholic School in Kemptville, Ontario, Canada. His school was launching a campaign for Africa relief. In Africa, hundreds of thousands of children the each year from drinking contaminated water. Ryan learned from his teacher, Nancy Prest, about children who didn't have clean water. He also learned from Mrs. Prest that $70 pays for a well, so he decided to raise the money. At age six, he was able to raise $70 in four months by doing extra chores around the house. When Ryan was asked to present the money in person at WaterCan, a small nonprofit agency in Ottawa, Canada, that provides funds and monitors building wells, he learned that $70 would only buy a hand pump. The actual cost to drill a well was $2,000.

WaterCan's funds are matched two for one by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), so Ryan would need to raise $700 to build his well. Because of Ryan's determination to meet this need, and the support of his family, friends, and local community, he was able to raise the $700 by the time he was in the second grade. Ryan and his mother Susan attended a board meeting to hear Gizaw Shibru, the Director for Uganda at Canadian Physicians for Aid Relief (CPAR). Ryan asked if his well could be built near a school. Angola Primary School in the Otwal sub-county of Northern Uganda was selected. As Shibru spoke with Ryan, he explained that the process of building a well by hand would take 20 people and about ten or more days work. Shibru said that drilling equipment would allow them to make many more wells. The cost of the type of equipment that would work was $25,000. Susan informed the Ottawa Citizen, a newspaper that had interviewed Ryan recently, about the results of the meeting. The article was published the next day. As word got out, an Ottawa TV station called to interview Ryan. Newspapers across Canada reprinted the story. By November 1999, the $25,000 had been raised. With the help of many generous individuals and organizations such as WaterCan, CPAR, CIDA, and Free the Children, the money eventually grew to over $1 ,000,000 in support of people in Africa who need clean water. This was enough money to make 77 wells in places such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

Ryan's Well Foundation

Ryan's story has become an example of how one person can make a difference. Young people can be motivated to support positive change. Ryan's Well Foundation was established in March 2001 . Tangible results have taken place due to the "ripple effect" of Ryan's initial efforts. Ryan's ambitious dream was for all people in Africa to have clean drinking water. As a result of the kindness of others, 485,433 people now have access to clean water. Today, Ryan's Well Foundation has built 310 wells and supported sanitation, health, and hygiene services in 14 countries worldwide. Ryan's Well Foundation, through cooperative partnerships, provides clean water and related health care services to people in African countries and other developing nations. The United States has partnered with Ryan's Well Foundation through the H20 Africa Foundation. Ryan's remarkable story can be an inspiration for other youth because there is still more work to be accomplished.

For example, the Youth in Action Program is a creative and innovative global learning program that can help educate students about the need for clean water, and to encourage them to become active citizens in the world. Teachers have access to these resources to develop a program that suits the needs of their class. Before teaching about the Ryan's Well Foundation, it would be helpful to read the information on the following web sites:

http://www.ry answell .ca

Ryan's Well Foundation

Youth in Action

H20 Africa Foundation

Water Supply

Three quarters of the world is water so it seems to be an endless resource available to all people, but in reality there is a limited amount of fresh drinking water. Over 97 percent of the earth's water is found in the oceans as salt water. Two percent of the earth's water is stored as fresh water in glaciers, ice caps, and snowy mountain ranges. The remaining one percent of the earth's water is available for our daily water supply needs.

Water Statistics

* 1 billion people lack access to a water supply that is safe for drinking - approximately one in six people on earth.

* 2.6 billion people in the world lack access to adequate sanitation.

* Less than 1% of the world's fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.

* A person can live weeks without food, but only days without water.

* A person needs 4 to 5 gallons of water per day to survive.

* The average African family uses about 5 gallons of water each day.

* Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.

* Water systems fail at a rate of 50% or higher.

* Every $1 spent on water and sanitation creates on average another $8 in costs averted and productivity gained.

* Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water live on less than $2 a day.

* Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.

* Human brains are 75% water, human bones are 25% water, and human blood is 83% water.

* A small drip from a faucet can waste as much as 18 gallons of water a day.

Water-Related Disease

* Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a waterrelated disease.

* For children under age five, water-related diseases are the leading cause of death.

* At any given time, half of the world's hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.

* 1.8 million children the each year from diarrhea - 4,900 deaths each day.

* No intervention has greater overall impact upon national development and public health than the provision of safe drinking water and the proper disposal of human waste.

* Human health improvements are influenced not only by the use of clean water, but also by personal hygiene habits and the use of sanitation facilities.

* Close to half of all people in developing countries are suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.

* The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.

* A 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, difficulty focusing on a computer screen or a printed page.

* By 2050, it is believed that "water will be the most critical resource issue we face in the entire world."

* According to the UN, nearly 2 million children the every year because of unclean water and poor sanitation.

Water in Uganda

In Uganda, only 46 percent of the people have access to safe water. The surrounding area in Agweo village, where Ryan's first well was dug, Uganda was suffering from 13 years of rebel activity, several years of drought, and AIDS. The closest water source was a swamp 3 miles from the village. The collected water often contained bacteria and made people sick. Many children had large bellies from infestations and intestinal worms. Diarrhea affected nearly 25 percent of school children on a regular basis. Typhoid and other deadly water-borne diseases were also common. With no doctors in the area, one in five children died before the age of five.

Teaching About Clean Water For All

Four classroom activities are included for students in the fifth and sixth grades. The goal of these activities is for students to understand that water is a valuable resource, but the amount of water is limited. Students will also see how water availability affects the lives of people in Africa. Perhaps the students will become interested in creating a project or a program to make a difference in their community.

Geography Standard: 6.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Kush.

Science Standard: 5th grade, Earth's Water 3.d Students know that the amount of fresh water located in rivers, lakes, underground sources, and glaciers is limited and that its availability can be extended by recycling and decreasing use of water.

Social Science Standard: 6th grade, World History and Geography: 6.2 Students analyze geographical, political, economic, religious, and social structures of early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Kush.

Activity 1: Read about Ryan's Dream for Africa

Read the book, Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together by Herb Shoveller. Ask the students to explain why Ryan wanted to help Africans obtain clean water. Review the steps he followed to reach his goal. Discuss Ryan's challenges and how he overcame them. Talk about having dreams and goals. Ask the students if they would like to share some of their dreams and goals. Tell the students they are going to learn more about the need for clean water in Africa.

Activity 2: Water Quiz

Teacher Preparation: Make an overhead of the Water Quiz and the prompts. Make a paper copy of the Water Quiz for each student. Pencils.

Objectives: To assess students' prior knowledge and as an introduction to water facts.

Instructions: Students orally answer Prompts (Brainstorm), then answer questions from the Water Quiz and discuss the correct answers

Procedure: List the following prompts on the board or an overhead.

Prompts (Brainstorm):

* How many of you took a bath or shower last night?

* How many of you took a bath or shower this morning?

* Did any of you need to go and collect the water you used?

* Did any of you need to go and find water to use?

* Did any of you even think about the fact that you had water available at your disposal last night or this morning?

* What are some other ways that water is used in your house? (examples: cooking, dishwasher, laundry, leaky faucet, toilet flushes, etc.)

Next, students choose a partner and make a list on how many ways they have used clean water in the past 24 hours.

Then, students in each group share the items on their list, one contribution per group at a time until all the ways have been revealed.

Next, distribute the Water Quiz (allow 5 minutes for the quiz. During this time, write the following terms on the board: "water stress"," water scarcity", and " water shortage")

Finally, review the correct answers to the Water Quiz with the students.

Water Quiz

1. How much of the water on earth is available to drink?

A) l% B) 5% C) 10%

2. How much water should you drink daily for good health?

3. How long could you live without water?

4. A hundred years ago, earth had much more, much less, or the same amount of water as it has now?

5 . One half of the world's freshwater lies within the borders of one nation. That nation is?

A) China B) United States C) Canada

6. Where is the greatest amount of freshwater found on Earth?

A) Underground B) the polar ice caps C) Oceans

7 . How many litres of water does it take to produce the average meal at a fast food restaurant (1/4 pound hamburger, fries, & soda)?

A)1,000L B) 2,50OL C)5,300L

8. The average Sub-Saharan African uses the same amount of water in a day as someone in a developed country uses when they do what?

A) brush teeth for 2 minutes with the water running

B) Flush a toilet

C) Run the sprinklers for a minute

D) Any of the above

9. How many people in the world do not have access to clean water?

A) 1 in 3 B) 1 in 6 C) lin 10 D) 1 in 20

10. What percentage of a living tree is water?

11. The number of people dying from waterborne disease is equal to how many large passenger jets crashing everyday?

A) 8 B) 24 C) 46 D) 69

12. What proportion of the world's major rivers are seriously polluted or depleted?

A) 10% B) 25% C) 50% D) 75%

Answers to the Water Quiz

1. A) 1%

2. six - eight glasses

3. About seven days

4. The same amount

5. C) Canada

6. B) the polar ice caps

7. 5,300 Litres

8. D) Any of the above

9. B) one is six, or 1 .1 billion

10. 75%

11. C) 46 jets or seven million people each year

12. C) 50% ww w.epa .state .il .us/kids/fun-stuff/quiz/waterquiz. html

Activity 3 - Water Statistics

Teacher Preparation: Make copies of the Water Statistics and Water-Related Disease information in this article for each student.

Procedure: Review the statistics and information with the class. Divide the students into groups of four. Provide one piece of construction paper or poster board and marking pens for each group. The objective is for each group to create a poster to raise awareness about issues related to clean water. Then, the groups can share their posters with the class. Finally, send each group to other classes to inform other students about water. Display their posters in the school hallways.

Activity 4 - Water in Africa

Objectives: Students will learn that the continent of Africa has many countries within its boundaries, and will identify areas in Africa that face water stress, water scarcity, and water shortage.

Teacher Preparation: Make a copy of the Water in Africa Facts for each student and make an overhead of a map of Africa, www. mapsofworld .com/images/africa-political-map . gif

Procedure: Discuss the Water Facts in Africa. Examine a map of Africa using an overhead transparency. Identify specific countries in Africa that have been identified as being water stressed, experiencing water scarcity, or water shortage

Water in Africa Facts

(Find these countries on a map of Africa)

* Underdeveloped areas have poor quality of water, especially in the Sahel (desert region, severe drought in 1970's killed nearly 200,000 people)

* The Sahel region consists of the countries Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Sudan

* The balance of supply and demand is becoming critical in Kenya, and Zimbabwe

* Water stress - show symptoms of scarcity or shortage, such as growing conflict between users and declining standards of water

* Water scarcity - insufficient to satisfy normal requirements; imbalance of supply and demand; countries in this range include Tunisia, Algeria, Kenya, and Rwanda

* Water shortage - absolute shortage, minimum levels to meet basic needs;

* Human causes of water scarcity include increased population and increased need for food.

* Other factors are a desert climate and global warming.

* Modifications to landscapes such as large scale deforestation and draining of wetlands may lower humidity.

* Pollution of normal water supplies from industry, chemical run-off s .

* Economic impact of water scarcity is keenly felt by more complex Sub-Saharan countries, such as Senegal, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

* Droughts have caused famines, mostly restricted to sub-Saharan Africa


www.ryanswell .ca/ jpg gif


Ask the students if they are interested in sponsoring an activity in their community to make a difference. Discuss some of the problems faced by the residents of their community and possible solutions. Tell the students about some of the children featured in this issue of the Social Studies Review who have made a difference. Create an action plan with a specific goal, a list of necessary resources, a timeline, and then explore fund-raising opportunities.

Web Sites


2. scarcity .htm


4. asp?hero=RYAN_HRELJAC




8 . http://assets waterinaf ricaeng .pdf

9. html

10. 1 96/ story_19610_l.html

11. waterdrinking .html

12. http://www.organicconsumers .org/OFGU/ savewaterO 1 1 305 .cfm


14. http://www.lenntech .com/water-trivia-facts .htm

15. http://news .bbc .co .uk/ 1 /hi/sci/tech/37475 88 .stm

16. water-quiz.html

17. http://www.lib .utexas .edu/maps/world_maps/ world_pol97.jpg


Children's Literature Books

Grades 1-3:

Cole, Joanna. (1986). Magic School Bus at the Waterworks. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

McNaIIy, Bruce. (1993). For every child a better world. United Nations: Muppet Press.

Steptol, John. (1987). Mufaro's beautiful daughters. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

Williams, Karen. (1991). When Africa was home. New York: Orchard Books.

Grades 4 -5:

Morgan, Sally. (2000). Water for all. New York: Franklin Watts.

Smith, David and Armstrong, Shelagh (2002). If the world were a village: A book about the world's people.

Spilsbury, Louise and Richard. (2007). Planet under pressure: Water. Chicago: Heinemann Library.

Grades 6-8:

Lucas, Eileen. (1991). Water: A resource in crisis.

Chicago: Children's Press, Inc.

Shoveller, Herb. (2008). Ryan and Jimmy and the well in Africa that brought them together.

Tonawanda, NY: Kid's Can Press.

Strauss, Rochelle. (2007). One well: The story of water on Earth. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.

[Author Affiliation]

Cheryl Medek teaches First Grade at North Elementary School in Tracy. In Social Studies, she enjoys teaching young children to be good citizens both in and outside of the classroom by helping others. Cheryl is a professional musician and plays the flute.

[Author Affiliation]

Jennifer Wright teaches Head Start in Turlock and coaches cheerleading in Ceres.

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