Fact: approximately 1.2 billion people still have no access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion do not have adequate sanitation services. Fact: Some two million children die every year from water-related diseases, such as simple diarrhea.
Imagine, for a second, that this was you. Imagine that you could not simply walk to the tap, turn it on, and fill up your glass with safe drinking water. Imagine that you could not walk to the bathroom, and use the shower, toilet or sink for fear of the water that runs through them. Now imagine an organization with the goal of helping people in this situation, an organization determined to do whatever is possible to provide fresh water and sanitation to those who cannot, or don’t know how to get it themselves. This organization is WaterCan.
WaterCan is an international non-governmental organization based in Ottawa, dedicated to building sustainable water systems and sanitation services to underprivileged African nations. Founded in 1987, WaterCan is headed by honorary President Margaret Trudeau, and a team of executives, as well as the respective university chapters across the world (stretching from Canada to Australia). Each year, WaterCan raises money to send to a specific African nation, in order to help them in their struggle for clean, safe water.
This year, the WaterCan University Chapter Challenge is to raise $50,000 to fund two projects in two large rural schools in the Bachoo District of Ethiopia. In this region, WaterCan hopes to provide school children and teachers at Sodo Liben and Keta Insilale Primary Schools with improved, sustained access to safe water and hygiene education.
Where WaterCan is unique is in the implementation of its program. Not only do WaterCan representatives travel to the African nation to deliver the money raised, and the supplies accumulated, they ensure that the systems are self-sustaining. A well full of fresh water that provides for a clean, sanitary washroom is only good as long as it continues to work as it was meant to. Through its program, WaterCan reps ensure that the community can sustain itself in a situation such as this; they ensure that the community can fix the problem, without having to rely on anyone else.
The Dalhousie chapter of WaterCan was begun in September 2006 by co-chairs Danielle Berman and Adam Rochwerg. In its first year, “WaterCan @ Dal” had Margaret Trudeau come to speak at Dalhousie, numerous bake sales, a semi-formal, and joint events with other Dalhousie societies such as the Undergraduate History Society. The Dalhousie chapter surpassed the goal set for them by WaterCan head office by nearly $500.
After a year hiatus, WaterCan @ Dal is back. Successful events have taken place already this year, and are rapidly being planned for the future. Currently, a joint event with the Undergrad Commerce Society is in the preliminary stages of planning, and WaterCan is working together with Hydro Heroes to present the award-winning film Flow on November 28 at 7 p.m. and November 29 at 3 p.m. at the Potter Auditorium.
WaterCan @ Dal is constantly looking for new members and other societies that wish to help in the cause for clean, safe water. WaterCan’s weekly meetings are held Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the SUB, and new members are welcome to attend. To get involved in WaterCan @ Dal, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook.
Just a cup of water and a clean bathroom could make all the difference in the world.
Adam Rochwerg is a fourth-year history student and co-founder of WaterCan @ Dal.
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